Coastline 2008–2009

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When energy took  the lead The rise of the biggest energy cluster in the Nordic countries

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Business review: Close-up of the region’s export companies



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A specialist in non-life insurance solutions.


Partake in success! Ostrobothnia as a region is doing well in many respects. Unemployment is low and companies are thriving. However, to keep the wheels rolling equally well in the future, we will need help from the outside. Since Ostrobothnia’s working-age population decreases steadily, thousands of new employees will be needed in many sectors in the coming years. Southern Ostrobothnia is already witnessing considerable workforce immigration, and many other areas and sectors are waking up. The need for more employees is not only noticeable in low-paid sectors; very soon this will be the case in all fields. In many ways, Ostrobothnia is a great place to live. Ours is a safe society, with low unemployment and many prosperous companies. Our schools are among the world’s best and there are good opportunities for career development. Ostrobothnia is also a highly international region, with long experience in exports and contacts with other countries. Vaasa comes right behind Helsinki in the proportion of foreign inhabitants. The Coastline magazine has entered its third decade. In this edition we chose to emphasise the region’s energy cluster – the biggest concentration of energy technology competence in the Nordic countries. Energyrelated topics have been in the headlines lately, and the future looks promising for the cluster. Many of the energy cluster’s products save energy, and their demand is increasing hand in hand with the rise in energy prices. This makes the region resilient – even to economic downswings. Ostrobothnia also faces good future prospects because our economy does not rely on a single sector. In addition to energy, we are also strong in fields such as chemistry, boatbuilding, electricity, metals and the forest. The Chamber of Commerce welcomes people from all over the world to participate in the Ostrobothnian success story.

Strengthened by long traditions


o origins and traditions have any role left in our changing and global world? Ostrobothnia has long and firm traditions in entrepreneurship. The west coast was one of Finland’s first regions to become industrial. Exports also took off at an early stage, as is natural for a region with the sea as its nearest neighbour. Ostrobothnia is characterised by a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Local inhabitants have always found it natural to employ themselves by setting up a business. It can hardly come as a surprise that the region has Finland’s highest concentration of companies. What makes Ostrobothnian businesses stand out is their high share of exports and the fact that many of them have grown on their own without big subsidies from the state or other institutions. In other words, traditions are strong, but do they have any importance in our modern business life? The answer is yes, no doubt. Without the traditions and skills that have evolved in Ostrobothnia in the past 150 years, the region would look completely different today. This edition of Coastline describes the history of the region’s energy cluster – the biggest in the Nordic countries. Looking back in time, we see the importance that emigration to America had for the region’s development. The emigrants who returned brought with them new competence and ideas. No small wonder that Ostrobothnians find it easy to navigate in today’s global society. They have done so for centuries. Peter Boström

Mats Sandström

Bengt Jansson Editor-in-chief

Mats Sandström

COASTLINE is regularly published by the Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce. Office Runebergsgatan 11, FI-68600 Jakobstad. Tel. +358 6 781 6400, Fax +358 6 781 6490, Editor-in-chief Bengt Jansson Executive editor Anna Jeanne Söderlund Editorial board Peter Boström (chairman), Bengt Jansson, Juha Häkkinen, Peter Appel, Jaana Nikkari, Anna Jeanne Söderlund, Petra Nylund. Project management Botnia Information, Storgatan 15, FIN-68600 Jakobstad. Tel. +358 6 781 0700. Fax +358 6 781 0705. Project manager: Peter Appel. Editors: Jaana Nikkari, Anna Jeanne Söderlund, Petra Nylund, Mika Louhiaho, Laura Lehtinen. Art director: Glenn Nylund Layout: Annika Hellén, Janne Nylund. Translation: Nancy Seidel, Tina Seidel. Printing: Waasa Graphics, Vaasa. On the cover Juha Kytölä, President of Wärtsilä Finland. All rights reserved. Reproduction, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Guldkusten Ab and the copyright holders, is strictly prohibited. ISSN 1235-6646.

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Juha Kytölä is President of Wärtsilä Finland, one of several energy companies in Vaasa. The region houses the biggest energy technology cluster in the Nordic countries.


One of Finland’s major museums in contemporary art, Kuntsi, has recently opened its doors in Vaasa. The collection includes works of artists such as David Hockney.


The Eremenkos are Finland’s best known football family. Nelia and Alexei moved to Jakobstad from Russia in 1990.



Ostrobothnian business and trade is firmly anchored in many sectors. Coastline presents all of the important export companies in the region. Metal, energy, forest and boats are just some of the sectors represented.


Flourishing business calls for a functional infrastructure. Read about the organisations, universities and polytechnics that provide Ostro­ bothnian companies with an educated workforce and other support.

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COMPANIES PAGE BY PAGE A A.Häggblom 36 ABB Finland  26 Ahlskog Group  34 Ahola Transport  71 Alholmens Kraft  64

P Port of Jakobstad  100 Port of Kaskinen  100 Port of Kokkola  100 Port of Vaasa  100 Prevex 66

B Backman-Trummer 66 Baltic Yachts  54 Beamex 52 Best-Hall 79 Business Development Centre Concordia 86

R Rani Plast  68 Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia  92 Regional Council of Ostrobothnia  93 Rettig Värme  78 Rolls-Royce 56 Roschier, Attorneys  82

C Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences  102 Centria R&D  103 Citec Companies  50 Componenta Pietarsaari  30 Componenta Pistons  30 E Ekeri 73 Elho 33 Etelä-Pohjanmaan Voima  63 Eur-Mark 32 F Finn Spring  80 Finn-Power 38 Finnvera 88 H Herrmans 77 HUR 76 Hydrolink 37 K Katternö Group  65 Kemira 62 Ketek 87 Kokkola Industrial Park  90 Kosek 98 KWH Group  66 KWH Freeze  66 KWH Mirka  66 KWH Pipe  66 KWH Plast  66 L LKI Käldman  41 Leinolat Group  75 Linex Boat  55 M Mapromec 28 Maprotec 28 N Norcar-BSB 31 Nordautomation 61 Nordea Bank Finland  97 Närko 74

S Sarins Båtar  57 Sasken 49 Sesca Group  48 Snellman 81 Solving 29 SQ Logistics  72 Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration (Hanken) 106 Swedish Vocational Institute  108

Ostrobothnia is a highly international region, with long experience in exports.

T T&E Centre for Ostrobothnia  94 T-Drill 40 Technology Centre Merinova  89 Telenor Cinclus  51 The Switch  46 U University of Vaasa  104 University of Applied Sciences (Novia) 107 University of Applied Sciences (VAMK) 105 UPC Communication Centre  53 UpCode 53 UPM Wisaforest  58 UPM Wisapaper  58 V Vaasa Engineering Group  45 Vaasan Läänin Puhelin (VLP)  84 Vaasa Region Development Company (Vasek)  96 Vacon Group  44 Viexpo 95 W Walki Group  60 Wedeco Management  99 Wärtsilä 42

O OMG Kokkola Chemicals  70 Optima 109 Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce  85 Outokumpu (OSTP)  69

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Emma Westerlund

Noolan’s unique clothes collections feature a simple style and lasting design.

Hail to the northern wind Keep an eye out for clothes of the Noolan brand – they are going global. The word “noolan” comes from the local Swedish dialect and signifies “northern wind”. Business started on a small scale in 2000, and now the garments made in Jakobstad are available in Scandinavia. The next step is Central Europe. “Our growth is goal-oriented but controlled. I want to keep all production in Ostrobothnia because it is an ideal place for designers. Here you’ve got peace to work and no need to follow every trend,” says Marja Rak, founder and head designer. Rak used to design clothes of fish skin, but Noolan’s clothes are mainly made of linen and felt. “I want to create simple clothes with lasting design, nothing for short-term use,” says Rak.

Tomorrow’s f1 stars Motorsport-fanatic Finns start at an early age: four-year-olds are the youngest participants in the annual box car race arranged in Nykarleby. Competitors roll downhill in engineless box cars that they themselves have helped to build. Nearly 100 children compete in the Longrun, High Speed and Looking Good categories, cheered on by 5,000 onlookers. The Kimi Räikkönen of tomorrow? The annual box car race in Nykarleby.

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Monica Enqvist

Stormy teen rock

Passion for beauty

Nailing a record contract at the age of 15 sounds like a dream, but for the “Sturm und Drang” rock band from Vaasa it is a dream come true. In the past year the band released its first CD and was launched internationally. The boys in “Sturm und Drang” began playing together as 12-year-olds, inspired by a Judas Priest concert. They were helped along with song writing and contacts by Patrick Linman, a musician and father to singer André. The plan is for André, Alex, Henkka, Jeppe and Calle to finish school alongside their music careers.

Two of Finland’s leading jewellery designers have many things in common: a passion for beauty, a career at Kalevala Koru – Finland’s biggest jewellery manufacturer – and Ostrobothnian roots. Kirsti Doukas, born in Alajärvi, and Tony Granholm from Jakobstad have both contributed to the world of Finnish jewellery. Doukas is head designer at Kalevala Koru, while Granholm has Eat them, sit among them – the vegetables of Närpes. Enjoy a special meal in the Lind family’s greenhouse.

Greenhouse meals Rock stars at the age of sixteen. The rise of “Sturm und Drang” has been meteoric.

Blues maestros on film Did you know that one of the biggest names in Nordic blues hails from the Ostrobothnian town of Kokkola? Meet Wentus Blues Band, over twenty years in business. They are called “the hardest working band in Scandinavia”, performing over 150 times a year. Wentus Blues Band has toured 14 countries, released seven albums and performed with many of the big names in blues and rock. They can now be seen on film as well. The new documentary, “Family Meeting”, shows the musicians onstage and backstage, accompanied by Eddie Kirkland, Louisiana Red, ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor and many others.

Wentus Blues Band – Scandinavia’s gift to the blues world.

In Närpes, restaurant owner Maria Berg hit upon a good idea a few years ago when looking to expand her company, Lind’s Kitchen. What could have been more natural to a family of greenhouse growers than to place their restaurant guests in a greenhouse? Customers now enjoy their meals surrounded by some 200 edible plants ranging from figs and chilli to edible flowers. The menu, of course, features produce grown on location. One of the most original specialities is tomato ice cream served with cucumber liqueur sauce. Tasty? “Most definitely! A couple of Egyptian guests decided to try the same back in Egypt,” says Maria Berg. Närpes is the centre for greenhouse growing in Finland.

”Polaris” by Kirsti Doukas

designed many of the company’s most popular items, some of them inspired by thousand-year-old ancient finds. “It warms my heart to think that in one thousand years someone will dig up a piece of our jewellery and learn something about the period we live in,” says Granholm, whose designs have sold in over one million pieces. Kirsti Doukas is one of Finland’s best known jewellery designers around the world. Her designs are modern, bold and clear. Doukas has made jewellery inspired by, for example, Finnish national poetry, as well as special collections for the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Kalevala Koru’s jewellery is sold all around Europe, as well as in the USA, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

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When energy    8  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

took the lead The Vaasa region is home to the biggest concentration of energy technology competence in the Nordic countries. Starting with the manufacture of simple engines in the beginning of the 20th century, the energy cluster today develops and produces a wide range of products from sophisticated power plants to hi-tech energy saving equipments. The cluster employs over 11,000 persons and has a total turnover of 1.8 billion euros.

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n a beautiful summer day in 1906, numerous people crowded to the beach outside Vaasa to witness something brand new: a fishing boat equipped with an engine and propellers. The mood was both sceptical and expectant. Would the engine work? Could it really make the boat go faster than a pair of oars? Half an hour later most of the onlookers were convinced – as well as very impressed. In a mere 25 minutes the boat had covered a distance that normally took one and a half hours to row. The person entertaining locals in this way was 36-year-old John Wickström. Similar to many other Ostrobothnians of his generation, John had left for America as a young man, but decided to return home after a few years. Enthusiastic about technology, Wickström did not come back empty-handed. In America he had picked up more or less everything there was to learn about 10  coastline • 2008

Wärtsilä is today the leading supplier of flexible power. Above the Barrick power plant in the middle of Nevada, USA.

engines in those days. Among other things, he apparently put together the first car in Chicago. When Wickström moved back to Finland in 1906, he decided to set up a motor factory in Vaasa with his brother Jakob. As far as is known, the factory was the first of its kind in Finland, and it was one of the company’s new products that was demonstrated that radiant summer day in 1906. Before long, the Wickström brothers were faced with competitors, as people noticed how lucrative the engine business could be. Tradition lives on Although the Wickström brothers’ engine factory went bankrupt in 1964, John Wickström’s engine skills live on vibrantly in the region. Vaasa is home to manufacturers of both hitech electrical engines and diesel engines. The region also houses dozens

of other companies that operate in the energy sector, producing, for example, frequency converters, transformers and wind power components. The Vaasa energy cluster is the biggest in the Nordic countries, consisting of more than 800 companies and directly offering 11,000 jobs. A full 800 people are employed in energy technology research and product development, while exports account for an exceptionally high share of 70 per cent. Although energy technology competence has always been strong in the region, the term “energy cluster” was not employed until the 1990s. Prior to that, companies worked on their own, without anyone looking at the full picture, as explained by Yrjö Halttunen, Managing Director of Technology Centre Merinova Ltd, an organisation responsible for developing the energy technology sector. “State subsidies used to be based

Mats Sandström

Biofuel pioneer The world’s biggest biofuel power plant is located in Jakobstad in Ostrobothnia.

Mats Sandström

on the idea of providing most support to sectors and regions that found it difficult to survive with competition. That changed completely in 1993, when the focus of attention shifted to the kind of competence available in the individual regions and ways in which to support it. We had to stop to consider what we were good at, and then we got it: the Vaasa region is strong in energy,” says Halttunen. For many years, the energy sector remained in the background, but now it has suddenly stepped into the limelight. Energy issues and climate threats are being discussed all over the world, and the energy sector, which used to be somewhat conservative, has now entered a new, dynamic phase. Positive events in the war years Why exactly has the Vaasa region accumulated the biggest energy technology cluster in the Nordic

countries? Even if engine manufacturer John Wickström’s input was significant, we can hardly give him all the credit. Macabre as it may sound, Ostrobothnians are partly indebted to the Second World War for today’s good situation. During the war years, the Strömberg power company decided to transfer part of its operations to Vaasa, mainly for strategic reasons. Strömberg manufactured a full range of electrical appliances for both industry and consumers. In the late 1980s the company underwent substantial changes. It was first acquired by Kymi, a Finnish company, and shortly thereafter by Asea from Sweden. Before long, Asea merged with Brown Bovery, a Swiss company, to form ABB. ABB is still strongly rooted in Vaasa, where it manufactures, for example, electrical engines,

Hi-tech energy solutions from the energy cluster. ABB (top) delivers a broad range of energy-saving solutions both internationally and locally, Vacon (bottom left) is known for innovative variable-speed AC drives and The Switch, the latest newcomer, focuses on wind energy components.

n  Alholmens Kraft has been called a modern-day engineer’s dream. The power plant has the status of a pioneer, seeing that it was the first one to make large-scale use of biofuel to produce electricity, district heat and process steam. Commercial operations started in early 2002, and the plant is still the biggest of its kind in the world. The furnace used to burn biofuel is 40 metres high. “We noticed early on that there was no point in thinking small: the power plant had to be big in order to be profitable,” says Peter Bo­ström, Board Chairman of ­Katternö, one of the power companies that own the biofuel plant. The plans for Alholmens Kraft were launched in the mid-1990s. The plant was to be located on the Jakobstad factory site of UPMKymmene, a forest company. Since pulp and paper production generates a great deal of by-products that can be used as fuel, it was natural to run the new power plant using biofuel. The company also began to collect logging residue instead of leaving it to break down in the forest. Apart from forest biofuel, ­Alholmens Kraft burns peat and waste from the region’s households and companies. It is also running tests on field bio mass, such as reed canary grass. Small amounts of pit coal are used as supplementary fuel. c

Alholmens Kraft uses, for example, logging residue as biofuel.

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Early 1900s





1906 Wickström’s engine factory

Wärtsilä establishes itself in Vaasa

Strömberg sets up shop in Vaasa: engine and equipment plants come on line

Strömberg initiates production of distribution and power transformers

Wärtsilä develops the world’s first diesel engine for heavy fuel

Strömberg sets up a testing and development laboratory

Strömberg’s electronics production begins in Vaasa

Several small engine factories

Network companies

The biggest energy cluster in the Nordic countries The energy cluster in figures: Employees: 11,000 (6,000 + 5,000 in the network) Added value: ca. €1.8 billion Exports: 70%

transformers and products and systems used to automate electricity distribution and industrial processes. Wärtsilä, the other big power company in Vaasa, came to the region in the 1930s through the acquisition of Metvikens mekaniska verkstad, a mechanical workshop that manufactured, among other things, vessels with iron hulls. Wärtsilä, too, was encouraged by the war to make extra investments in the west. Vaasa could have served the whole country in case the Soviet Union had invaded southern Finland. In the 1950s Wärtsilä initiated license manufacture of diesel engines. The company’s engineers, however, were not impressed by the purchased designs. In just a few years, Wärtsilä had developed its own, clearly more

The energy cluster consists of a few big companies and several smaller companies and subcontractors.

Daniel Paro inspects his drawings for Wärtsilä’s break­ through product: a diesel engine powered by heavy fuel. The engine was a great hit for the next 25 years. Mats Sandström

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energy-efficient, diesel engine. It was hardly surprising, taking into consideration the strong engine competence already available in the region. The company made its international breakthrough in the 1970s with the world’s first ship engine powered by heavy fuel. Wärtsilä still manufactures diesel engines in Vaasa, where it also designs power plants and carries out research and product development. “The story of how Wärtsilä developed its own diesel engine is a good example of the Ostrobothnians’ way of working. We are rarely great inventors, but excellent when it comes to applications,” says Olav Jern from the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia. Rapid development In summary, Vaasa has long and powerful traditions in energy competence. Whereas development took place at a leisurely pace during most of the previous century, it has advanced rapidly in the past 15 to 20 years. Old operations have been reorganised and finetuned, while several new companies have emerged in the energy sector. “The development towards today’s energy cluster has proceeded in two clear phases,” says Olav Jern. “In the first phase, ABB entered the field and Strömberg got access to a global marketing network. Under the new owner, the company began to focus on certain core areas, such as drives, engines and relays, as well as on outsourcing and export. The second

phase started in the mid-1990s, when the value of our energy cluster finally dawned on us. This phase was characterised by increased co-operation between energy sector companies.” The end of the century saw the establishment of several significant and successful companies in the energy cluster, such as Vaasa Engineering and Vacon. The latest addition to the cluster is The Switch, a manufacturer of components for wind power plants. Like a magnet A cluster typically acts like a magnet, attracting companies and competence. It becomes a self-reinforcing positive spiral. “Participating in a cluster offers many clear advantages,” says Yrjö Halttunen from Merinova. “There is a large network of subcontractors that can supply high-quality components. Companies and institutions can also carry out joint development projects, and the education sector is designed to meet the energy sector’s needs. In a relatively small town like Vaasa, it is easier to tailor education to companies’ needs.” To help power companies establish themselves and develop operations, Merinova began to plan an actual physical cluster in the 1990s. Today, Vaasa Parks manages several premises, many of them near the airport, which it rents out to companies. Vaasa Parks is open and accessible, providing a meeting spot for people in the energy sector.





Wärtsilä initiates manufacture of diesel power plants

Wärtsilä becomes world leader in marine diesels

2007 The Switch is founded in Vaasa

1988 Strömberg becomes a part of ABB 1989 Technology Centre Merinova is founded to develop co-operation between power companies 1989 Vaasa Engineering is founded

1993 The Government launches the Centre of Expertise programme 1993 Vacon is established


The houses built for the Vaasa Housing Fair are heated in an economic and environmentally friendly way.



The Switch

Merinova Citec

Vaasa Engineering

Big secondary benefits Ostrobothnia can now congratulate itself for not jumping on the IT bandwagon that enthralled all of Finland at the end of the 1990s in the wake of Nokia’s success. The energy sector has suddenly become sexy, and its prospects are good, to say the least. In 2007–2008, the investments made by the Vaasa cluster will total 85 million euros. “The energy sector is very safe in the sense that it can also benefit from economic downturns. Many of the products that are manufactured here save energy, and when oil prices rise, so does the demand for energy-saving products,” explains Halttunen. The energy cluster also encompasses many companies that do not work with actual power solutions. According to Yrjö Halttunen, many different types of subcontractors and service companies can well be considered to form part of the cluster. A single industrial job is believed to generate on average 2.5 jobs in other sectors. This is clear to be seen in the Vaasa region, where trade flourishes and many new shopping centres are being planned. Despite the cluster having its core in Vaasa, it has repercussions on the whole region through subcontractor networks.

Centre of expertise programme

mand for the cluster’s products? “I don’t believe there is any immediate risk of companies moving to cheap labour countries. Our big advantage is that not only do we have manufacturing but also a great deal of research and development in this region. It is much more difficult to move that type of operation, since it is based on more than a century of experience,” says Olav Jern. In his opinion, labour shortage is a more imminent threat. Just like the rest of the western world, Ostrobothnia must deal with a decrease in its working-age population. “It may be difficult for companies to attract employees from other regions and countries, even though we are trying our best to do so. Then again, Ostrobothnians harbour a great love for their home region and often return after spending time out in the world. This keeps the competence in the region,” says Halttunen. That is to say, in addition to the war, it is also the Ostrobothnians’ love for their region that lies behind the energy cluster in Vaasa. John Wickström could have stayed in the USA a hundred years ago and run his motor factory over there. But, as so many Ostrobothnians, he decided to come home. c

Eco heating from the sea

John Wickström

Yrjö Halttunen

n   In the cold North up to half of the energy used in homes is taken up by heating. At the Vaasa Housing Fair, arranged in 2008, the sea has been harnessed for heat production. The low-energy network built on the site will heat houses using heat from the seabed sediment. This is a brand new heat collection method worldwide – never before have numerous groundsource heat pumps been coupled to a low-energy network or tested on an entire residential area. Nearly eight kilometres of collection piping has been laid radially and horizontally in the sediment layer off the fair area. The body of water acts like an energy-storing solar panel. Building-specific heat pumps heat the water to the required temperature. The system operates on the same principle as ground heating, but its efficiency is considerably better. The Vaasa Housing Fair area is nearly self-sufficient in terms of energy. The electricity needed to operate the heat pumps is generated with biopower: methane produced as a decay product at the nearby landfill is used to generate energy that keeps the pumps going. Even though Vaasa is located up in the cold North, it does get warm too. During hot summer days the energy originating from the seabed can be used to cool houses. c Mats Sandström

Olav Jern

anna jeanne söderlund Threat from labour shortage Are there any threats in sight, if even downswings increase the de-

Houses built for the Vaasa Housing Fair are heated with energy transferred from the seabed. The area is a good example of the advanced level of energy competence in coastal Ostrobothnia.

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Kuntsi’s icons can fin   Vaasa is the site of one of Finland’s major museums of contemporary art. At the newly opened Kuntsi museum the public can view industrialist Simo Kuntsi’s extensive collection of classic modern art.


hen the Kuntsi museum finally opened its doors in February 2007, it was an event many had been waiting for for over 20 years. The process had suffered many setbacks and the opening had been postponed on three occasions. Industrialist Simo Kuntsi, who died in 1985, willed his huge collection of contemporary art to the city of Vaasa, on condition that the city establish a museum for the works at least ten years after the death of his wife. When Mrs. Kuntsi died in 1995, Vaasa, like the rest of Finland, was in a deep financial crisis, and finding the funds to open a new museum was not an easy task. When the building was finally chosen, the city had to wait until the rental contract for the charming old customs house by the waterside had expired. Plans were put into operation in 2001 and the museum stood ready for the opening in 2005. At the last minute it was found that the construction of the windows was faulty – they could not withstand the high air humidity that is necessary to conserve the art works. As a result, all 150 windows had to be replaced and the opening postponed for another two years. “Now that we’re this far those problems are a mere memory. We’ve had many visitors and there is a tremendous interest in the museum,” says Museum Director Anne-Maj Salin. Kuntsi now has one of the major modern and contemporary art collections in Finland. It comprises about a thousand works from the 1950s to the 1980s, more than half by Finnish artists. All the big names are represented, among them Kain Tapper, Kimmo Kaivanto and Leena Luostarinen. Among the international artists are Andy Warhol and Joan Miró. Simo Kuntsi had a firm feel for art. Many of the works were purchased long before the artists had claimed their place in history. The museum’s collection was expanded recently with 600 newer works, donated by collector Lars Swanljung. Besides its own collection, the museum also has temporary exhibits. Are you interested in a visit? Take Hietasaarenkatu down to the shore, where you will see an old, yellow building.

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ally be seen


LEFT. One of the most valuable paintings in the Kuntsi collection is British artist David Hockney’s “Gregor in the Pool”, from 1978. Hockney painted a series of pool pictures after he moved to the USA.

RIGHT. Simo Kuntsi had a talent for finding young promising artists long before they became famous and well known to the public. He bought Marjatta Tapiola’s “The Easter” in 1980, at one of her first exhibits. LEFT. Perhaps the best known of all modern artists is also represented in the collection. Andy Warhol’s Mao, from 1972, has a place of honour on the upper floor of the museum. The museum is housed in a charming old customs house from the turn of the century.

RIGHT. During the 1960s and ’70s, art was often politically and socially critical. A typical example imbued with the pacifistic spirit of the times is Finnish artist Kimmo Kaivanto’s “Masculin”, from 1970, representing a rifle lock.

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In constant tr

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ansformation Land uplift following the last ice age causes rocks and islands to emerge from the sea along the Ostrobothnian coast. The unique region has now been included in UNESCO’s list of world natural heritage properties.

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GEOGRAPHY A landscape is usually thought of as something stable and unchanging, but in Ostrobothnia the coast is under constant transformation. After the last ice age the region has undergone land uplift, which causes several square kilometres of land to emerge from the sea every year. So unique is the phenomenon from a global perspective that the region has been included in UNESCO’s list of world natural heritage properties.


he Ostrobothnian coast finds itself in good and prestigious company: UNESCO’s list includes famous sites, such as the Galapagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon. The archipelago, known as Kvarken, was added to the list because it is a unique example of important development phases in the Earth’s history and of ongoing geologic processes. What is now a colourful archipelago with thousands of small islands and islets, only two thousand years ago would have been nothing but sea. Every year several square kilometres of land rise from the sea, and the view can change radically in one generation, as bays grow over, new islets are formed and ports must be moved to keep up with the receding sea. Land of the rocks “Do you see that islet over there? It wasn’t there when I was a kid. Back then we used to take our boat right over that spot.” So says Roland Wiik, who has grown up in the region and now shows tourists around in the summer. We are in the Björköby harbour, located in the middle of the new world natural heritage site, waiting to set off on a boat ride to the Valassaaret islands. The trip makes it clear why this area is so unique. As far as the eye can see, there is nothing but rocks – and rocks and still more rocks. They stick out of the water everywhere, in piles, forming long, narrow islands, and under the water you see the ones waiting to rise above water level. “None of these islands is more than 200 years old,” says Wiik, indicating the whole area as the boat makes its way slowly through the rocks. In other words, what we are seeing is still such a youngling in geological terms, that it has not yet left the maternity ward. This also means that the region’s flora and fauna are special. The area is home to many species

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Both the Kvarken region on the Finnish side and the High Coast on the Swedish side are on UNESCO’s list of world natural heritage properties. As a result of land uplift, the two regions will probably have grown together in 2,000 years.



FINL AND Kvarken region

that cannot be found elsewhere in the world.

sive history: it was built by the same engineering company that designed the Eiffel Tower and was transported in pieces to Kvarken from France. The lighthouse offers breathtaking views, and a higher vantage point from where to get a better overall picture of the Kvarken area. Many of the islands are so low that they seem to form a mat floating on the water. The highest point of land is only five metres above water level in the new world natural heritage site. Land uplift in the site is one of the world’s fastest: 8–9 millimetres a year. It may not sound like much, but it translates to nearly one metre in a century. Furthermore, since the landscape is so flat, this also means the emergence of large areas. The world heritage site alone gets one square kilometre of new land every year, and land uplift is also rapid in the Ostrobothnian archipelago outside the site. Growing together with Sweden

Three-kilometre-thick ice All of the rocks are remains from the last ice age. Some 10,000 years ago all of northern Europe was covered by a big ice sheet, which was at its thickest in this region: up to three kilometres. The ice depressed the crust as much as one kilometre, and ever since the ice began to recede, the crust has been rebounding. When the ice melted it pulled with it stones and soil that resulted in the formations now visible to the eye. Kvarken features the world’s biggest De Geer moraine deposits. Viewed from the sea, the washboard-like formations stick out as long and thin rocky islands. Difficult to navigate It is obvious that these waters are not easy to navigate. Looking out towards the Valassaaret islands we see a lighthouse dating back to the 1880s, which helped seamen find their way through the rocks and ridges. The lighthouse boasts an impres-

For people living and staying in the region, land uplift presents a great number of challenges. Bridges must be moved and fairways dredged at regular intervals. And the ice continues to make things difficult: every winter the sea freezes over for several months. When the ice melts in the spring, many rocks and stones have changed place again, which is why the fairways must be checked every year. On the Swedish side, opposite the Kvarken region, lies the High Coast, which is also on the UNESCO list. Here the ice formed the land in the exact opposite direction. Instead of being flat and even, the landscape is characterised by big differences in elevation. Since the Earth’s crust is still expected to rise another 200 metres, the two regions will have grown together in approximately 2,000 years. c anna jeanne söderlund

Anna Jeanne Söderlund

Anna Jeanne Söderlund

Anna Jeanne Söderlund

TOP & RIGHT. This islet is no more than 200 years old. New islands and islets continue to rise from the sea due to land uplift.

Anna Jeanne Söderlund

LEFT. The old bridge on the left dates back to the 1800s. Today it is located far up on dry land.

RIGHT. The Valas­saaret islands are home to a lighthouse built by the same engineering company that designed the Eiffel Tower.

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Antti Aimo-Koivisto

Alexei Eremenko Jr, turned pro in 2001. This picture was taken at a European Championship qualifying match between Finland and Poland.

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The football family of Finland Football is hardly a one-man show, but Jakobstad is home to a family that can be called Finland’s number one soccer family. Meet the Eremenkos, who have so far given the football world three top scorers.


ad the Eremenkos given way to mother Nelia’s impulse when the family first arrived in Finland, Finnish football may have been much impoverished. Rewind to 1990, when Alexei and Nelia, with sons Alexei Jr and ­Roman, reached their new home town, Jakobstad. It was Midsummer’s Eve – a magically beautiful time of the year with daylight around the clock. To first-timers, however, the town looked incomprehensible, even frightening, that evening. “We saw only two cars and not a single pedestrian on the streets! I was on the verge of tears and my only thought was to get out of that ghost town,” says Nelia. But that was not to be. After

midsummer the town went back to normal. Everyone returned from their summer cottages – no one celebrates midsummer in town – and Alexei started his career in the town’s football club, Jaro. New rhythm of life At the time, Jaro was looking to climb from a lower division to the Finnish national league. Getting a talented professional of Alexei’s calibre on the team was a dream come true. During the following years Jaro established itself in the league, and most people agree that Alexei was the most important individual player in the 1990s. “Divine” and “Jaromenko” were some of the names given to him.

The Eremenko sons have inherited their father’s football talent, but father Alexei has also brought them up as football players. Second-oldest Roman plays as pro in Italy, while the youngest, Sergei, still attends school home in Jakobstad.

Without Alexei’s artistry, many a goal would not have been scored. It was by happy accident that the Eremenkos ended up in Jakobstad. Alexei was one of the first ­Soviet players to get the chance to play abroad, but the family’s first choice, a contract in Spain, fell through due to bureaucratic hassle. Instead, the family headed to Finland, a country of modest football success. Nevertheless, the Eremenkos found the place to their liking. “We noticed during the first week that there was something special in Jakobstad. Everywhere we went we were received with open arms, and there was always someone to support us,” says Alexei. There was no getting away from a Mats Sandström

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S PO RTS STO RY “What matters is the individual’s capacity to put in everything that is needed. We have taught our sons to take responsibility and have prepared them for the real world by teaching them to accept criticism. It has led to good results.” Jakobstads Tidning / Peter Fellman

culture shock, however. The highrise complex in Moscow that the family had previously lived in had as many inhabitants as all of Jakobstad: 20,000. But the small scale of life turned out to suit the Eremenkos. “Workdays were long in Moscow and all the distances were enormous. It was a struggle to get everything done in a day. Here, in contrast, anything you need is five minutes away. It leaves you so much more time to do whatever you want to,” says Alexei. Football legacy handed down The Eremenkos have also had the opportunity to work in fields they love. Nelia, a former top gymnast, coaches gymnastics groups, while Alexei now works as a trainer for JBK, another football club in Jakobstad. It is, however, the training given within the family that is of biggest interest to the world: sons Alexei Jr and Roman have made their mark in one of the world’s most competitive arenas: international professional football. At the time of writing, Alexei Jr is one of the support pillars of football club Saturn Moscow, while younger brother Roman has signed a contract with Udinese from Italy. It was by no means certain that both boys would become football pros. “What matters is the individual’s capacity to put in everything that is needed. We have taught our sons to take responsibility and have prepared them for the real world by teaching them to accept criticism. It has led to good results,” says Alexei. The Eremenkos’ lifestyle has always been dictated by the needs of sports: early to bed and an absolute no to fast food. Meals have always consisted of nutritious home-made food. Summer 2007 was momentous to the Eremenko parents: both of their sons donned the Finnish national team outfit for an important European Championship qualifying match. For Roman it was also his national team debut. Finland won the match 2–0, and Alexei Jr scored one of the goals. “It was incredible, what else could a father wish for?” says Alexei Sr. Alexei and Nelia were accompanied in the grandstand by their youngest 22  coastline • 2008

The first photo of a young and football-keen Alexei Eremenko, when he arrived in Jakobstad on 24 May 1990. Little did he know that it would become his permanent home.

son Sergei, as yet an unwritten leaf of football history. Building the future Alexei’s football career has also taken the family to Helsinki, Norway and Greece, but it was always clear to the Eremenkos that they would return “home” to Jakobstad. According to Alexei, it is at least partly thanks to the family members’ own doing that they settled into the Finnish society so quickly.

“When foreigners complain about not feeling good here, it is often because they haven’t learned the language, which makes it difficult to get a job. It is important to adopt the culture and customs of the country.” Similar to many other Ostrobothnians, the Eremenkos chose to become entrepreneurs and partnered with Camilla Jungell to run Fitness Club. Their activities outgrew the first facilities, and a new, bigger Fitness Club opened up in early 2008. Exercise-oriented Jakobstad inhabitants also benefit from international soccer assets: Alexei Jr and Roman contribute to the centre with their football income from abroad. Nelia, who works as an instructor at Fitness Club, believes that her two sons will some day return to the small town on Finland’s west coast. “This is home to them,” she says. The Eremenkos are now digging their roots deeper down into the Ostrobothnian soil: they are building a house for the family and they also have a summer cottage a few kilometres outside of town, on the Kvarken coast. “It is incredibly beautiful out there. We try to spend as much time as possible there in the summer,” says Alexei. The Eremenkos have taken up the customs of their adoptive region. c petra nylund

Mats Sandström

THREE EREMENKOS Alexei Sr (1964): two Finnish Championships, two runner-up placings. 360 league matches, 64 goals. Alexei Jr (1983): professional since 2001. League matches in Finland, Italy and Russia. National team debut in Finland: 2004.

Roman focused on football – as his father and older brother before him.

Roman (1987): professional since 2004. League matches in Finland and Italy. National team debut in Finland: 2007.

Mats Sandström

Alexei and Nelia Eremenko took their soccer family to Jakobstad and gave a boost to football both in Jakobstad and all of Finland. Today they run their own sports company in the town.

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Mats Sandström

Ostrobothnian grow how Export orientation, strong clusters, highly niched companies – that is Ostrobothnian business in a nutshell. In addition, trade and business shows a great deal of versatility. Ostrobothnian trade and business is characterised by diversity: the region houses different types of companies in a variety of sectors. Company sizes range from big to small and everything in between. Even relatively small companies invest big on global markets, made possible by niche specialisation. The following pages of Coastline introduce all of the main export companies in the region. Many of them operate in strong clusters, such as energy technology, metal, forest and boatbuilding, while others have found themselves a niche in completely different sectors. This kind of versatility leads to diversified risks and security for the future.

The most responsible country Finland is the world’s third most competitive country if measured by responsibility. AccountAbility, a research institute headquartered in England, rated countries based on how well they comply with environmental agreements and recognise civil and employee rights. The study also focused on audit procedures and various social indicators.

Least corruption Structure of industry in Ostobothnia Added value by sector

Finland has long been one of the world’s least corrupted countries according to the Transparency International organisation. The 2007 study also put Finland at the top of the list, side by side with Denmark and New Zealand.

Others, 7% Metal, 20% Vehicles, 7%

The world’s best school system

Food, 8%

Chemicals and plastics, 9%

Machinery and equipment, 18%

Pulp and paper, 14% Electricity and electronics, 15%

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The Finnish school system is the best in the OECD countries. Two times in a row the comprehensive school in Finland has been ranked first in the PISA study, which the OECD uses to compare the school systems of different countries.   Finnish pupils do best in the natural sciences and mathematics and second best in reading skills. Researchers have explained the good results by pointing out that Finnish schools are equal and even weaker pupils do relatively well.

Facts about Finland…


Inhabitants: 5.2 million Average population density: 17 per sq. km Area: 338,145 sq. km Climate: Warm summers and cold winters Official languages: Finnish and Swedish Government: Sovereign parliamentary republic since 1917 Member of: EU, EMU, the UN, OECD and WTO Main industries: Metal, engineering, electronics and forest

has a fast growing industry. Central ­Ostrobothnia and the region’s growth engine, the town of ­Kokkola, are doing well. In 2006 and 2007 industry in the region saw annual growth rates of more than 20 per cent, which is clearly higher than the average in Finland.

Jakobstad… has the most successful companies. Of all the towns and cities in Finland, Jakobstad has the biggest proportion of AAA-rated companies. According to a report by Dun & Bradstreet Finland, 6.2 per cent of the town’s companies are in the highest credit category. To get an AAA-rating a company must meet numerous criteria, such as a high equity ratio.

Vaasa… has the most active exporters. Vaasa exports nearly 80 per cent of its industrial production, which makes it the biggest exporting town in Finland. The reason for this is that many successful international export companies operate in the city.


e Kokkola Larsmo Jakobstad


Kälviä Kannus Kronoby


Th e





n li

…and the Coastline Ostrobothnia or the Coastline from Kristinestad in the south to Kokkola in the north covers an area of about 10,000 sq. km. About 200,000 people live on the Coastline, giving an average population density of 20 per sq. km. The population on the Coastline consists of 51 per cent Finnish-speakers, 48 per cent Swedishspeakers, and 1 per cent other. A traditionally strong sense of entrepreneurship is the basis of economic life. Internationally competitive industries and small-scale artisan enterprises prosper side by side. Greenhouse vegetables and fur farming are the region’s specialities. Well developed service branches guarantee high living standards for the population and employ nearly half of the labour force.


Oravais Maxmo Vörå Vaasa Korsholm Vähäkyrö Isokyrö Malax Laihia



Närpes Kaskinen Kristinestad




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Energy efficiency – the    ABB’s power and technology solutions help to save energy.

Mats Sandström

coastline • 2008  51


nergy is the lifeblood of today’s economy. From the extraction of raw materials, through manufacturing and transport to final usage, society relies on the continuous and predictable nature of energy supply. As the world’s thirst for energy continues to grow, new innovative solutions need to be sought in order to meet the growing demand. The answer offered by ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, is energy efficiency. “Using less energy for the same tasks has the same overall effect on the global energy balance as does the introduction of alternative energies. Energy efficiency is our core business. Most of our products and solutions help to save energy and in that way aid in the battle against climate change,” says Mikko Niinivaara, Country Manager, ABB Finland. ABB produces automation and power technology products, systems and services for utilities and the industry worldwide. The company is locally present in over 100 countries and on every continent.

fields of automation and power. In oil drilling, for example, production volumes can be raised by up to 30 per cent a year through process automation. This increases production volumes in relation to the amount of energy consumed. When transporting oil and gas along pipelines or on tankers, energy can be saved by using better pumps and control systems and by reducing fuel consumption on vessels with the electric Azipod® propulsion system. In power generation, considerable energy savings can be achieved by controlling the power-up of the power plant’s boiler. The transmission and distribution of electrical energy always involve losses in the line. ABB’s high voltage DC and FACTS (Flexible AC Transmission Systems) offer excellent ways to reduce these losses. The HVDC technology suitable for longdistance power transmission lines and the HVDC Light technology

The world’s growing thirst for energy has encouraged industry to invest in energy-efficient solutions. ABB’s high-efficiency motors together with variablespeed drives reduce energy consumption by up to 70 percent.

“Energy efficiency is our core business. Most of our products and solutions help to save energy,” says Mikko Niinivaara. Mats Sandström

suitable for shorter distances considerably reduce losses in the lines. “The untapped savings potential is huge, and the impacts are both ecological and economical,” stresses Niinivaara. Energy consumption down by 70 per cent It is estimated that motors use 65 per cent of the electricity consumed by industry and that generating the electricity to drive these motors produces 37 million tonnes of CO2 annually. High-efficiency ABB motors can deliver significant savings in energy consumption. Furthermore, depending on the application, the use of variable-speed drives to run motors reduces energy consumption by up to 70 percent. ABB has delivered about one million variable-speed drives, which bring along savings equal to twice the energy consumption of Finnish industry on the whole. The need for energy efficiency is huge and immediate. ABB has the will, power and solutions to do its part. c

Throughout the chain Energy can be saved in every phase of the energy value chain: in primary energy solutions, energy conversion, power transmission, as well as in the distribution and use of electricity. ABB contributes to more efficient energy management with nearly all of its products and services in the 52  coastline • 2008

ABB Finland Tel. +358 010 2211 Business sector: Power and automation technology Turnover 2007: €2.0 billion Employees: 6,650 Export: 70% Major markets: worldwide

Towards automation

Robots manufacture an increasing share of Mapromec’s and Maprotec’s engine parts. ufacturers, ABB and Wärtsilä, but have also gone in for direct exports in recent years. Robots in charge of work Mapromec and Maprotec have put big emphasis on automation recently: their investments in new robots amount to four million euros. “Automation offers many advantages and, most importantly, improves quality. For example, robots never have bad days. Automation also makes it easier to adjust production to customers’ needs, since robots can work around the clock seven days a week,” explains Karp. Quality and accuracy are a question of honour for Mapromec and Maprotec. Every engine part shipped from the plant has been subjected to a meticulous check. Among other things, piston pins are examined with ultrasound to detect any material defects or micro fractures. “A piston pin must be of prime quality: if it breaks, the result is a catastrophe,” says Karp. Steady on many fronts


eeing a vessel at sea makes Managing Director Caj-Erik Karp content. It is highly probable that the vessel pushes ahead thanks to piston pins delivered by his company. Mapromec is a global leader in large piston pins for diesel engines, and the company’s products can be

Mapromec and Maprotec have invested in many new robots lately. In addition to making operations more costeffective, robots improve product quality.

found in every other big mediumspeed engine in the world. Piston pins are also used, for example, in power plants and locomotives. Mapromec’s sister company, Maprotec, also manufactures engine parts. The companies supply products to the region’s two main engine man-

Mapromec and Maprotec also deliver products to foreign engine manufacturers, which is further proof of the high quality of their products. “The manufacturers could get their products closer at home, but prefer to use us. We take this to mean that our products are of top quality,” says Karp. Mapromec went in for direct exports in the mid-1990s and has gradually increased its business abroad. “Export expands our operations and gives us synergy benefits. Offering the same products to a growing number of companies makes us more cost-effective,” explains Karp. c Oy Mapromec Ab Oy Maprotec Ab Tel. +358 6 320 4500 Fax +358 6 322 3193

“The engine sector is moving towards increased outsourcing, which works to our advantage,” says Caj-Erik Karp.

Business sector: Components for diesel and electrical engines Turnover 2007: €22 million Employees: 130 Export: 45% Major markets: Worldwide Certificates: ISO 9001, ISO 14001 (Mapromec)

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Awarded for creativity Thirty years of innovative heavy load handling by Solving.

Mats Sandström

Solving’s projects are becoming more comprehensive as the automation of its movers continues to increase.


eceiving the Innofinland prize from the Finnish President for creative entrepreneurial activities is an honour annually bestowed on only five companies. One of the five in 2006 was Solving, a leading manufacturer of equipment used worldwide to handle heavy industrial loads. “For us, creativity means helping our customers to expand their concept of heavy load handling. Our staff works with a very open mind to find solutions that are best suited to each customer,” says Peter Björk, Managing Director. Solving makes moving systems based on air film, wheels or a combination of the two and offers both manually operated and automated systems. The company’s products, available all around the world, are mainly used in industrial manufacturing processes, but also for moving mobile theatre stages and sports platforms in the public arena. Comprehensive solutions Solving was founded over 30 years ago by the three Björk brothers – Peter, Paul and Rune – at a time when air film technology was still relatively unknown. Peter first saw the technol54  coastline • 2008

ogy used in 1977 and realised it could be further developed to benefit a larger market. “Our systems are tailored to each customer. We offer comprehensive solutions, including everything from conceptual design to after sales support,” explains Ullamay Borgmästars, Marketing Coordinator. Although a relatively small company, Solving is able to simultaneously handle several big projects thanks to its experienced project management team and well-developed subcontractor network. “We have around thirty companies in this region working as direct subcontractors for us. They are part of our success,” adds Björk. Final assembly is always performed on Solving’s premises, while project implementation, final testing and commissioning takes place at the customer’s premises.

Mats Sandström

Customised movers enabled Solving to become one of the five companies to receive the Innofinland prize in 2006. In the photo, Ullamay Borgmästars and Peter Björk.

“Asia is one of our biggest growth areas, and South America is also showing positive development,” says Björk. c Ab Solving Oy

Worldwide market

Tel. +358 6 781 7500 Fax +358 6 781 7510

Solving has enjoyed an annual growth rate of 20–30 per cent in recent years and the company’s home market, which previously consisted only of the Nordic countries, has expanded to the rest of Europe and beyond.

Business sector: Systems for heavy load handling Turnover 2007: €12 million Employees: 60 Export: 85% Major markets: Worldwide Quality Assurance System: Solving Quality System (based on ISO 9001)

Casting future solutions

Componenta Pietarsaari, Componenta Pietarsaari MS and Componenta Pistons serve global customers. Mats Sandström

Even very big series can be delivered at the right time to the customer’s own production line. “Our goal is to provide added value to our customers by helping them to design castings. In this way we ensure that the product is suitable for its end use and the manufacturing costs are competitive. Castings give extremely great freedom to the design of form. A recycled raw material content of 80 per cent also provides added value to our customers,” says Tapani Paalanen, business unit director of Componenta Pietarsaari. Since big volumes require efficient production and a high degree of automation, the manufacture of engine parts has become highly automated. “There is hardly any need for human hands. A robot fixes the work pieces into the fixtures, and the machining, deburring and washing processes are fully automated,” explains Juha Pouttu, business unit director of Componenta Pietarsaari MS. c

The proximity of the foundry and machine shop, along with a high degree of automation, provide added value to the customers of Componenta.


omponenta is Europe’s second largest independent provider of cast components and solutions. In addition to Finland, the Group operates in Sweden, the Netherlands and Turkey. Componenta has three business units in Pietarsaari. Componenta Pietarsaari provides cast solutions, Componenta Pietarsaari MS focuses on machined casting and pre-assem-

“We achieve global competitiveness and productivity with modern machines and automation,” say Juha Pouttu, Tapani Paalanen and Sakari Pisilä.

Mats Sandström

bled components, while Componenta Pistons designs, manufactures and markets pistons for medium-speed diesel engine manufacturers. Efficient value chain The castings and forging blanks that Componenta Pistons uses for its piston parts come from the Group’s own foundry and forgery. “The competitiveness of Pistons is based on efficient value chain management. The company designs pistons for customers’ different engine models. We have developed our manufacturing process, and machining is carried out with modern machine tools,” says Sakari Pisilä, business unit director of Componenta Pistons. The main customers of Componenta Pietarsaari and Componenta Pietarsaari MS are global companies in the heavy trucks, off-road and machine building industries. Competitiveness The Group benefits from good logistics since the foundry and machine shop are located close to one another.

Componenta Pietarsaari Oy Tel. +358 10 403 00 Fax +358 10 403 3199 Business sector: Manufacturing of cast iron components for the truck and engineering industries Employees: 220 Export: 70% Major markets: Scandinavia and Europe Certificates: ISO/TS 16 949, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

Componenta Pietarsaari MS Oy Tel. +358 10 403 00 (exchange) Fax +358 10 403 3585 Business sector: Machining of cast iron components for the truck and engineering industries Employees: 90 Export: 90% Major markets: Scandinavia and Europe Certificates: ISO/TS 16 949, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

Componenta Pistons Tel. +358 10 403 00 Fax +358 10 403 3530 Business sector: Large bore pistons for medium-speed diesel engines Employees: 44 Export: 20% Parent company: Componenta Corporation

coastline • 2008  55

Automation to boost efficiency Welding robots take Norcar to new markets.

Mats Sandström

Norcar is strong in robot applications, and has recently introduced welding robot systems for industrial use.


orcar-BSB, a family company that has been in business for nearly 30 years, has always relied on two strong fields: miniloaders and industrial automation. Since both sectors continue to develop well, there seems to be no reason to change this. “We have recently introduced welding robot systems for industrial use, which we expect to offer good potential for exports. As for miniloaders, Europe is a very interesting market, with demand growing continuously,” says Lotta LindénSvarvar, Managing Director. Norcar is strong in robot applications, including specialised robot solutions with camera systems for product identification. “Medium-sized metal industries in Northern Europe are in great need of automation. Our long experience in delivering comprehensive solutions is very useful in this respect,” says Andreas Lindén, Manager of the Industrial Automation Division. Need for automation The radiator industry is a big customer sector. Norcar recently delivered

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its biggest order ever: automation equipment for the brand new Quinn radiator plant in Great Britain. “We still see a great need for automation in the radiator industry,” says Andreas Lindén. Miniloaders also have good prospects, thanks to the wide range of uses they can be put to. Agriculture and contracting work are the main sectors, while rental companies that buy loaders to be rented to private customers and companies constitute a growing segment. “We continue to launch new models and introduce our miniloaders on one or two European markets every year. The latest additions are Poland, Great Britain and the Czech Republic,” says Lotta Lindén-Svarvar. Feeding trucks maintain their position Feeding trucks for fur farmers are miniloader sister products. Norcar is a global leader in this field. “We recently beat our own production record in feeding trucks, but there is still room for development in the farming sector,” says LindénSvarvar. c

Mats Sandström

Lotta LindénSvarvar and Andreas Lindén are satisfied to see that both of the company’s sectors are doing well in the export markets.

Oy Norcar-BSB Ab Tel. +358 6 781 2800 Fax +358 6 722 1441 (working vehicles) (industrial automation) Business sector: Miniloaders and attachments. Industrial automation and robot applications. Turnover 2006: €20 million Employees: 85 Export: 60% Major markets: Northern and Central Europe, North America

Sanitation is needed everywhere Almost limitless use of Eur-Mark’s aggregates.

Oy Eur-Mark Ab Tel. +358 6 781 3400 Fax +358 6 781 3411 Business sector: Sanitation aggregates Turnover 2007: €7.6 million Employees: 40 Export: 50% Major markets: The Nordic countries, the Baltic countries, England Quality procedures: ISO 9001, ISO 14001

oping big industrial environments or cleaning up after a fire.” Good noise reduction makes the aggregates well suited for use in urban environments. Thanks to their gentleness, they are often used instead of excavators for precision suction of materials. “We have developed the flexibility and scope of the suction arm. Remote control and proportional hydraulics enable our aggregates to be used for delicate manoeuvring. For example, a hose can easily be inserted through a small window,” says Spåra. All of the aggregates can also be made to comply with the ADR classification for dangerous or readily inflammable substances. Environmentally friendly technology


t is up to the customers’ imagination what all our aggregates can be used for.” Kurt Vienonen, Eur-Mark’s Managing Director, does not speak out of arrogance but from experience. Over the years, Eur-Mark’s flushing and suction aggregates have continued to find new fields of use. Ever since Gunder Spåra founded Eur-Mark in 1992, the company’s main product has been its combi aggregate. It combines flushing and suction, is suitable for various purposes and comes in many different sizes.

Dry suction is a fast, effective and silent redevelopment method for city centres.

“We continue to develop our products in co-operation with customers and according to their needs. The know-how of our customers is irreplaceable,” says Vienonen. Dry suction on the rise The fastest growing product, however, is the dry suction aggregate. Patrik Spåra, Sales Manager, provides examples of possible uses: “Basically anything is possible: removing old construction material and replacing it with new items, redevel-

Water recycling is a new field of application. The process consists of removing the rinsing water, along with the dirt, from pipes, separating it in the sludge tank and re-using it for washing. “This saves time, money and the environment,” explains Vienonen. Eur-Mark has grown steadily in recent years. Having the right products is one explanation, but Kurt Vienonen also believes that the company’s location in a region with a good work culture has had a big impact. “In Ostrobothnia we feel confident that our employees will handle their duties and that our subcontractors will take care of their end. Attention to detail and honesty are questions of honour here,” he says. c

Mats Sandström

Kurt Vienonen and Patrik Spåra believe in continued growth in the dry suction sector.

coastline • 2008  57

Forty years of quality

ELHO produces machines and appliances for cattle farms and silage harvesting as well as for bale wrapping and feeding.

Interest in agriculture has made ELHO a worldwide success.


LHO, a manufacturer of agricultural machines, was established in Pännäinen, near Jakobstad, in 1968. The company relies on long and strong traditions in agriculture. “My father, Arne Löfvik, started as a farmer, which gave him practical knowledge about agricultural machines. He wanted ELHO to manufacture machines that help farmers to produce feed of better quality. The company made its first raker in 1975,” says Löfvik’s daughter Carola Gustafsson, ELHO’s current Managing Director. Continuous development of quality ELHO’s products include round bale wrappers, mower conditioners, swathers, special equipment for feeding and bale choppers. The company was one of the first to manufacture round bale wrappers in Europe. An airtight wrap helps to preserve prewilted green fodder without additives thanks to the natural anaerobic lactic acid fermentation taking place inside. Bale wrappers are one of ELHO’s most popular products. “Our machines can be used in 58  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

one in a Swedish exhibition because of the high mowing efficiency achieved with relatively small tractors.

South America as well as in the Nordic countries. Sixty per cent of our production is exported to more than forty countries. Kesko, which operates a big chain of agricultural stores, has been our partner in Finland since the very beginning.” Machines are also used for contracting, which multiplies their utilisation rate. Reliability and secure maintenance are becoming increasingly important selection criteria. The company has achieved energy efficiency and feed purity thanks to its patented suspension system for the mower conditioner’s cutterbar. It was awarded a Technical Invention Prize in Italy and nominated number

“It is impossible to compete on costs if your operations are based in Finland, so you have to excel in quality,” says Carola Gustafsson.

Contact with customers Good milk quality relies on a professional farmer, who understands the importance of investing in feed quality. ELHO’s agricultural machines are developed in co-operation with farmers, contractors and international testing facilities. “ELHO is characterised by an enthusiasm towards agriculture and product development. A company must work in close contact with customers so that it can notice all the changes taking place, as well as the opportunities and needs for new machines that such changes offer,” says Gustafsson. c ELHO Tel. +358 6 788 8000 Fax +358 6 788 8048 Business sector: Manufacture of agricultural machines Turnover 2006: €11.4 million Employees: 85 Export: 60%

A   hlskog sheds skin From leather production to energy-saving solutions.


ifteen years ago Ahlskog’s name was still associated with the leather and skin industry. Since then, the company has changed course, and its original operations account for only a minor part of business today. The Ahlskog Group now works in the metal industry and specialises in energy-saving solutions. These operations are run through Ahlskog’s subsidiaries, Scancool and Mesmec. “Structural changes in the leather industry made it necessary to shift focus. Both Mesmec and Scancool were interesting companies with potential for development,” says Johan Högnabba, Chairman of the Board, explaining the reasons for the change of direction and acquisitions.

The Ahlskog Group offers its customers energy-saving and environmentally friendly solutions. Cooling equipment, for example, can incorporate waste heat recovery. The photos are taken in Greenland.

Scancool makes cooling equipment, while Mesmec supplies machining and process solutions. Both of them used to be typical metal companies, but have lately turned their focus on energy-saving environmental technology. Scancool offers solutions that recover waste heat from cooling aggregates, and Mesmec specialises in methane gas recovery from landfills. “The companies have separate operations, but I believe environmental technology will offer considerable synergies in the future,” says Högnabba.

Cooling and heating With facilities all around Finland, Scancool supplies cooling equipment to industry and air conditioning to the real estate sector. It also offers service contracts to customers. “Cooling is a highly energy-consuming activity. It actually means removing heat, which can then be collected. More and more of our projects are comprehensive solutions in which waste heat is recovered,” says Jonny Asplund, Managing Director of Scancool. Among other things, the company has supplied Snellman’s food plant with a heat pump that collects heat energy from the plant’s wastewater. coastline • 2008  59

Johan Asplund

Johan Asplund

Mats Sandström

The collected energy is used to heat up the facilities, leading to a considerable reduction in energy expenses. The system is expected to repay itself in no more than three years. Collection of methane gas Mesmec delivers customised machining and process solutions to various industries. Its operations now focus on the food industry and on equipment for sewage treatment plants. Mesmec also specialises in the collection of methane, a greenhouse gas, from old landfills so that it can be further converted into electricity and heat instead of being left to load the atmosphere. 60  coastline • 2008

“We co-operate with foreign partners in the field of gas recovery. South America, in particular, offers great opportunities to finance gas extraction by selling carbon dioxide emissions rights,” says Mats Strandvall, Managing Director of Mesmec. From fur to energy Although Ahlskog’s original and current operations seem very different, they have a common background in the leather and fur industry. Ostrobothnia is known for its many fur farms; Scancool and Mesmec started off as suppliers to fodder kitchens. Their evolution is a sign of adaptability to changing demands.

From the left: Jonny Asplund, Managing Director of Scancool, Johan Högnabba, Chairman of the Board for Ahlskog, Scancool and Mesmec, Mats Strandvall, Managing Director of Mesmec, and Peter Nygård, Managing Director of Ahlskog.

“We have always been environmentally conscious, but we now want to emphasise environmental aspects even more. When we see pictures of melting glaciers, we know we’re doing the right thing,” says Johan Högnabba. c Ahlskog Group Subsidiaries: Oy Scancool Ab, Oy Mesmec Ab Business sector: Cooling equipment, machining and process solutions Turnover 2007: €15 million Employees: 100 Export: 15% Major markets: The Nordic countries, the Baltic countries, Russia

Making the earth move

A.Häggblom is Scandinavia’s biggest manufacturer of undercarriages for earth-moving machines, such as stone crushers.

A.Häggblom is Scandinavia’s leading supplier of undercarriages.


ndercarriages for earthmoving machines must meet strict quality requirements. They are subjected to great fatigue and wear, for example, in stone crushers used in quarries and in pile drivers used in demanding construction environments. This has been crucial to A.Häggblom’s success in the field. Thanks to its long experience in the metal industry and its specialisation, the company has been able to meet the stringent demands. Häggblom is

“Our customers appreciate the fact that we work with major component and material manufacturers,” says John Hagnäs.

now Scandinavia’s leading manufacturer of undercarriages. “Our customers are the stars of their industries and will only settle for the best,” says Managing Director John Hagnäs. Growing volumes

Mats Sandström

A.Häggblom is a family company established in 1955. It has always seen good development, but in the late 1990s the company’s volumes really surged. This resulted in A. Häggblom drawing up a long-term investment scheme. ”We have now reached our goals for expansion, which included, for example, two welding robots and many new facilities. However, continued strong growth and customer wishes mean we should grow an additional 40 per cent in the next two years,” says Hagnäs. Volumes continue to increase. In 2006 the company manufactured 650 frame pairs, and this figure is soon expected to reach 1,000. Two legs Around 60 per cent of Häggblom’s business is taken up by the design

and manufacture of undercarriages for special machines. The remaining 40 per cent consists of the import and sales of components and spare parts for excavator and bulldozer undercarriages, such as track chains and gear wheels. “Our stock of components is the most comprehensive in Scandinavia, featuring some of the most prominent brands in the field. We also export some of the components further on to Russia. It is a growing business,” explains Hagnäs. Häggblom’s customers have taken the company’s undercarriages to every continent. For example, the pile drivers used to rebuild the World Trade Centre site in New York are equipped with Häggblom’s products. c

Ab A.Häggblom Oy Tel. +358 207 658 200 Fax +358 207 658 229 Business sector: Metal products for earth-moving machines Turnover 2006: €18.9 million Employees: 60 Export: 95% (through customers) Major markets: Global

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Masters of snow

Formatic is known for its performance and comfort. Pictured here is a machine preparing the slope in Val d’Isère.

Siberian tracks now also groomed by Formatic.


ydrolink has over 50 years of experience in manufacturing tracked vehicles for use on snow. The company makes Formatic tracked vehicles, which are used to groom cross-country ski trails and downhill slopes. The latter may seem somewhat surprising, seeing that the company comes from Finland’s flattest region: Ostrobothnia. “We are geographically well situated even though we are far from our main market, the Alps. Our strategic location in the centre of Scandinavia ensures good logistics. Thanks to the region’s big industry, there are also many subcontractors for the metal industry,” says Mats Carlson, Managing Director. Asia on the rise Russia has recently become a new interesting market for Hydrolink. In 2007 the company delivered ten cross country track grooming machines to Siberia. “Our being Finnish is an advantage in the new market. Trade between Finland and Russia has long traditions,” explains Carlson. The Alps in Central Europe have traditionally constituted a big market 62  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

for snow grooming machines. Hydrolink has subsidiaries in Seefeld, Austria, and Val d´Isère, France, which handle sales, spare parts and service. Tracked vehicles for cross-country skiing have their biggest markets in Scandinavia. Hydrolink is the world’s leading supplier, in terms of technology, in this field. Performance and comfort Formatic machines are known in the sector for their good performance and comfort. Grooming machines are used to prepare the snow for downhill slopes, and the driver often spends the whole night alone in the dark. This is why the company emphasises ergonomics and userfriendliness. Hydrolink has outsourced much of its production in recent years and the company now focuses on final assembly. “We purchase subcontracting from suppliers near by. In this way, we can ensure high quality,” says Carlson. In addition to slope and trail equipment, Hydrolink makes feeding machines for European fur farms. c

“Russia and other countries in the east are new interesting markets,” say Mats Carlson, Managing Director, and Tore Carlson, R&D Director.

Hydrolink Oy Ab Tel. +358 6 3521 100 Fax +358 6 3520 440 Business sector: Snow groomers and cross-country track groomers, farm feeding machines Turnover 2006: €8.5 million Employees: 30 Export: 90% Major markets: Worldwide

Committed to innov   Finn-Power manufactures Mercedes-class machines for sheet metal processing.


ecent years have brimmed with good news for Finn­ Power, a manufacturer of machines and solutions for sheet metal processing. In 2006 the company’s turnover was up a whopping 34 per cent, followed by 20 per cent in 2007. “Our success is based on innovation and product development,” says Managing Director Tomas Hedenborg. Finn-Power’s machines are technically advanced, boasting a reputation in their field that corresponds to Mercedes in the automobile industry. The company offers machines for every type of sheet metal work from punching to laser cutting and bend-

In recent years, Finn-Power has grown twice as fast as its competitors in the sector. The company’s success is based on its emphasis on product development.

ing. Finn-Power’s range also includes accessories for automation and storage handling. Sheet metal is used in many fields, including the telecommunications and construction industries and household equipment. Finn-Power’s customers also vary considerably in terms of size. Differences in the value of projects may be hundredfold. Steep fluctuations Finn-Power’s sector is sensitive to economic fluctuations. The latest downturn took place shortly after the millennium, when the demand for

machines plunged, partly as a result of the IT bubble bursting. “Our operations went through major changes during the recession. We outsourced a number of operations and now focus on final assembly and innovation. Since we work with limited resources we need a clear focus,” says Hedenborg. During its 25 years in sheet metal working technology the company has built up solid skills, which are key to its success. However, it was almost by accident that the company came into being in the first place. The founder and former owner, Jorma Lillbacka, needed a machine for sheet metal processing, but found the ones coastline • 2008  63

Mats Sandström

available to be too expensive. Instead, he decided to build a machine on his own – and the rest, as they say, is history. “The first machine version was displayed at an international fair way back in the early 1980s. Focusing on export and internationalisation at such an early phase has proved to be crucial to the company’s success.” Staying put in Finland Although over 90 per cent of the company’s products are exported to more than 60 countries, Finn-Power is not planning to move production away from Ostrobothnia. 64  coastline • 2008

“We have a plant in Italy and have studied opportunities in China, but have not made any plans to relocate there. The minor cost benefits we could achieve would be eaten up by weaker productivity and logistics,” says Hedenborg. Finn-Power is the fourth biggest player in its field. Hedenborg believes that keeping up to date with customer needs and their reasons for choosing the company’s equipment is necessary for future success. “Our success has been driven by excellent quality, but also by our flexible and easy-going customer relations. We are lucky to have competent employees able to solve customers’

“We have no plans to relocate production from our home in Ostrobothnia,” says Managing Director Tomas Hedenborg.

problems. However, I believe that labour shortage is one of the big future threats,” says Hedenborg. In addition to product development, Finn-Power has invested in industrial design. After all, a Mercedes should not only feel good but also look good. c Finn-Power Oy Tel. +358 6 428 2111 Business sector: Sheet metal working technology Turnover 2007: €250 million Employees: 920 Export: 90% Major markets: North America, Western and Eastern Europe

In a league of its own

T-Drill’s tube fabrication machinery continues to triumph.


ew company names come to signify a technology used in a field. This, however, is what happened to T-Drill, a world leading company in pipe and tube fabrication, whose name is used globally for a unique branching technology, the “T-Drill method”. The basic patent for tube collaring, created by the company forty years ago, still represents unique competence in the field and is used as textbook material in Finland and the USA. “We continue to invest in research and development and now allocate around ten per cent of our turnover

Tubes processed with T-Drill’s machinery can be found everywhere from vehicles and ships to ventilation pipes and solar energy systems. The markets and applications are growing rapidly.

to it. Our solutions are carefully tailored to individual customer needs,” explains Erkki Kaijasilta, CEO of T-Drill. The company’s operations, which started with the manufacture of collaring machines, have expanded over the decades to include machinery and equipment for cutting, processing and forming tubes. Promoting solar energy

Mats Sandström

“The secret to first-rate products is active R&D and competent employees. Half of our staff has been with us for fifteen years or so,” says Erkki Kaijasilta.

T-Drill tube fabrication machines are used all over the world for a variety of applications, ranging from the vehicle and shipyard industries to the HVAC sector. Tubes formed with the company’s machinery can be found under vehicle hoods and on ships, as well as in cooling, heating and ventilation systems. Solar energy devices are the latest addition to the long list of applications. “The growing popularity of solar energy solutions is also visible in our operations. Europe’s biggest manufacturers of solar power solutions rely

on T-Drill’s quality,” says Kaijasilta. In addition to technology, the company emphasises product appearance. “Industrial design is important to us. In our philosophy, the looks and form of machinery are a further sign of high quality and technology,” explains Kaijasilta. Over 90 per cent of T-Drill’s products are exported, mainly to Europe, the USA and the Far East. Eastern Europe and Russia are new, growing markets. Overall, the company’s tube fabrication machines have been delivered to some 70 countries. c

T-Drill Tel. +358 6 475 3333 Fax +358 6 475 3300 Business sector: Tube processing technologies Turnover 2007: €15 million Employees: 100 Export: over 90% Main export markets: Worldwide Quality assurance system: ISO 9001:2000

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Experts in handling the production flow LKI expands in tailor-made production lines.

More and more of LKI Käldman’s deliveries consist of whole production lines instead of individual ­machines.


KI Käldman, a designer and manufacturer of automation equipment for sheet metal processing, is on a roll. In just a few years the company has doubled its turnover, and its new products such as the CS300 storage system have prospered on the market. “We have introduced new generations of our machines at the right time,” says Leif Käldman, founder and Managing Director of the company. Customised products are a growing segment. With a staff of 110, LKI is still able to work like a small, flexible company when it comes to delivering with that extra competitive edge for individual customers. The degree of customisation continues to increase. “The lines we deliver require more and more attention from our engineers,” says Käldman. Customers’ service needs have grown hand in hand with the increasing demands on engineering skills. LKI has the capacity to install comprehensive lines on site, supervise the

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start-up of production and handle the growth of its after sales. Long-term plans However, producing the right product at the right time is not the only explanation for the company’s success. Goal-oriented, long-term thinking and responsibility have been at the core of LKI’s operations and are far from empty rhetoric to Leif Käldman. “We have chosen to decisively solve any problems related to the introduction of new products. It is an investment in our future. Even when seemingly unprofitable in the short term, we know that focusing on responsibility and long-term thinking is always worthwhile. It pays back in the form of customer confidence,” says Käldman. Since 1995, LKI has co-operated intensively with Amada, a Japanese manufacturer of machines for sheet metal processing. The sales network of the Amada corporation offers LKI a good link to the market, while LKI’s

“Long-term work also means being prepared for set­backs when venturing into new fields,” says Leif Käldman.

automation equipment gives Amada the opportunity to sell complete manufacturing lines on the European market. Customers benefit from Amada’s and LKI’s good co-operation. “We have further integrated our products to enhance production at customer sites,” says Käldman. c AB LKI Käldman Oy Tel. +358 6 781 5400 Fax +358 6 781 5433 Business sector: Automation for material handling Turnover 2007: €25 million Employees: 110 Export: 94% Major markets: EU countries, USA

P  owerfully committed New plant and strong product development anchor Wärtsilä in Vaasa.


lobal trade has been growing at an annual rate of eight per cent in recent years. Since most of it takes place by sea, shipbuilding has also been brisk. One in every three ships ploughing the seas has a product supplied by Wärtsilä. “Big demand has encouraged us to invest in and expand our engine plants in both Finland and Italy,” says Juha Kytölä, President of Wärtsilä Finland. The September 2007 inauguration of the new plant in Vaasa marked the culmination of a challenging project. The new plant was completed at record speed, in slightly over one year, without exceeding the budget or schedule.

“One in every three ships worldwide now features a product supplied by Wärtsilä. The goal is to raise the figure to every other ship,” says Juha Kytölä.

Mats Sandström

Revamped material flows The new plant was constructed according to a whole new concept, involving a complete revamp of material flows and logistics. “Deliveries arrive directly at the point of usage according to a detailed schedule. Instead of a warehouse, we only maintain a small buffer at the point of usage. The new system is more streamlined, efficient and easier to visualise. Nothing similar has been tested in this sector before,” says Kytölä. The assembly process was also converted from a cell-based to a line-based one. Work is carried out in certain phases and at determined points instead of going from beginning to end. This enhances specialisation and ergonomics. The plant also invested in new machinery for small coastline • 2008  67

and medium-sized components. Smaller components are purchased from subcontractors. Research and development The new plant features more automation and fewer strenuous and dirty work phases. “Despite adopting more automation we have increased our production workforce by 200 employees. In all, we have hired 700 people at our facilities in Vaasa in the past two years,” says Kytölä. In addition to engine production, Vaasa houses R&D units that serve the entire Wärtsilä Group. Plants for distributed power generation are also designed at the Vaasa facilities. “We have, for example, developed a power plant that uses cold-pressed vegetable oil, which has seen active 68  coastline • 2008

demand in Europe. Emissions trading has a clear impact in this respect. In the future, environmental affairs will have an increasingly big effect on product development. We already allocate three per cent of our turnover to R&D.”

Wärtsilä’s new plant in Vaasa increased capacity by 30 per cent. The plant was constructed in record time.

ensures solid skills. Thanks to the region’s excellent educational offering, there has never been a shortage of new professionals. What does worry us slightly is whether enough employees will be available to our subcontractors.” c

Three pillars Wärtsilä is an international corporation with roots in Finland. Its operations are sturdily based on three pillars: in addition to ship engines and propulsion systems, Wärtsilä designs and delivers complete power plants. The third pillar consists of a worldwide service network. “The new plant notwithstanding, I still think it is product development that anchors Wärtsilä in Vaasa. Engines have been manufactured here for more than a century, which

Wärtsilä Tel. +358 10 709 0000 Fax +358 10 709 1380 Business sector: Ship power systems and service; decentralised power plants, operations and maintenance. Turnover 2006: €3,189.6 million (whole group) Employees:16,000 (Finland 3,000) Export: 96% Major markets: Worldwide

Making the difference

Vacon is on its way to becoming one of the world’s leading AC drives manufacturers.


lectric motors consume around one third of electrical energy worldwide. Their power consumption could be cut 25–30 per cent by increasing the number of AC drives (also known as frequency converters) and energy-efficient motors. AC drives alone would bring a whopping ten per cent reduction in global power consumption. This, in turn, would lead to a considerable decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

Vacon’s AC drives are sold in 100 countries and on every continent.

“Despite this, only one in every ten motors is equipped with an AC drive. One in every three would be a better figure,” says Vesa Laisi, CEO of Vacon, an AC drives manufacturer.

“Sixty-five per cent of electricity is generated using fossil fuels. AC drives could reduce global energy consumption by ten per cent,” says Vesa Laisi.

Continued growth

Mats Sandström

The previous edition of Coastline, published in 2006, emphasised Vacon’s rapid expansion and strong growth. Two years on, the same pace continues. Vacon has expanded its production facilities at the factories in China and Finland and has boosted its position in all market areas. Its development has benefited, among other things, from high energy prices. “The surge in energy prices and the fall in AC drive prices have led to shorter payback times for investments in AC drives. Greater environmental awareness also works in favour of AC drives,” says Laisi. Globally local Vacon’s AC drives are sold in 100 countries and on every continent. The company has sales companies and representative offices all around the

world and is systematically boosting its local presence. “Our operations are based on an international distribution network and on OEM and brand label customer relations,” explains Laisi. The company invests approximately seven per cent of its turnover in research and development. Vacon has one of the broadest product ranges in the field. “We focus on a single business, which means that our AC drives know-how is the very best – all the way from product development and production to sales, marketing and service. We help customers to select the right solutions instead of just selling individual products,” emphasises Laisi. c

Vacon Group Tel. +358 201 2121 Fax +358 201 212 205 Business sector: AC drives Turnover 2007: €232.2 million Personnel: 869 Major markets: Europe, USA, Asia

coastline • 2008  69

Vaasa Engineering designed, supplied, installed and imple­ mented the automation, control and low-voltage systems for a bio­- power plant constructed in Baden-Baden, Germany.

Going for green energy

Vaasa Engineering believes in the future of environmentally responsible power production.


usiness is booming for Vaasa Engineering, a comprehensive supplier of automation and electrification solutions to the power sector. Its turnover reached 51 million euros in 2007, and since 2003 the company has doubled its turnover and is growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent. In 2008 Vaasa Engineering plans to hire 40 to 50 new employees and expand its facilities. The company focuses on power production, electricity transmission and distribution, as well as systems for electricity supply and use. Growth in green budget According to President and CEO Mauri Holma, Vaasa Engineering has clear plans for the future: it will continue to increase its business activities in green energy. “In 2008 green energy will account for 20–25 per cent of our turnover, compared to 15–20 per cent in 2007,” says Mauri Holma. Vaasa Engineering will electrify and automate more and more wind, hydro and biofuel plants in the future. Mauri Holma believes that world-

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wide efforts to curb emissions will make wind power, in particular, an increasingly important part of power production. Among other things, Vaasa Engineering has supplied automation and electrification systems to a wind park constructed in Norway. In addition to Finland, the company’s hydropower activities target especially Norway, where the hydropower market is ten times bigger than in Finland. Expanding market Vaasa Engineering acts both alone and with its co-operation partners all around the world. The company is growing increasingly international. In 2007 Vaasa Engineering established subsidiaries in Norway and Sweden. It is also planning to set up operations near St Petersburg in Russia. The use of waste for power production is a strong growth area in the future. “We expect to see an increase in the use of biogas and waste incineration. Waste treatment facilities that produce electricity and heat offer many opportunities,” says Mauri Holma. c

“We believe that internationalisation and green electricity will become increasingly important in the future,” says Mauri Holma.

Vaasa Engineering Group Tel. +358 207 1901 Fax +358 207 190 501 Business sector: Automation and electrification systems Turnover 2007: €51 million Employees: 280 Export: 75% Major markets: Worldwide Certificates: ISO 9001, ISO 14001

coastline • 2008  71

Dedicated to power The Switch answers the rapidly growing demand for wind power.


s climate issues continue to make the headlines, the demand for renewable energy sources has soared. New wind farms, for example, are going up all around the world. The Switch, a company specialising in electrical systems for distributed power production, has answered this need, among other things, by constructing a new plant in Vaasa. “Vaasa was a natural location for numerous reasons. The region houses many suppliers for the electrotechnical industry and offers a competent and highly educated workforce. Furthermore, the region is ideal in terms of logistics,” says CEO Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen. The Switch complements and strengthens the region’s robust energy cluster. In addition to the new facilities in Vaasa, the company has built a plant in China and has expanded its other plant in Finland.

Mats Sandström

The Switch management team in autumn 2007, during the construction of the plant in Vaasa. From the left: Dag Sandås, Olli Pyrhönen, JukkaPekka Mäkinen, Reijo Takala and Jorma Laukkanen. Anders Troeson is missing from the photo.

gensets, as well as power electronics for solar and fuel cells. Leading-edge technology The Switch’s permanent magnet machines and converters for wind turbines represent the latest technology. The systems reduce mechanical stress and increase efficiency, while making it easier to meet quality requirements. As wind turbines grow in size, securing their operations becomes more important than ever. “New technology is growing at an even faster rate than the wind power sector in general. We also deliver comprehensive solutions, that is, everything needed between the wind turbine and the electrical power network. Our goal is to double sales every year up to 2011,” says Mäkinen.

Joining forces The Switch came into being in late 2006, when two Finnish companies, Verteco and Rotatek, and Youtility from the USA joined forces. “The companies had the same ownership base and complementary product ranges. The goal of the fusion was to create a stronger company that could meet the increasing demand. Customers benefit from a single company being able to offer bigger solutions,” explains Mäkinen. The Switch supplies unique power conversion systems – power converters, machines and other electrical equipment – for distributed power generation and industrial processes. The company’s fastest growing and most important segment is wind power. Other segments include drive trains for industry and variable-speed The Switch Tel. +358 6 2828 900 Business sector: Innovative power electronics and drive trains for distributed power generation systems Turnover 2007:€ €17 million (Forecast 2008: €47 million) Employees: 65 (Forecast 2008: 160) Export: 97% Main markets: Europe, China, USA

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The Switch’s wind power components represent the latest technology. The company has successfully answered the soaring demand in the wind power sector.

The order books at the Vaasa plant already looked good during construction, several months before the plant came on line. Fastest on the market The Switch wants to be the fastest supplier on the market. According to Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, the keys to achieving this objective are networking, flexibility and customer-orientation. The company’s customers, as well as its production plants, are located on three continents. The Vaasa plant focuses on the final assembly of wind power plant components for the European market, while the plant in China makes products for local customers and supplies components to production in Europe. The Switch also has a production plant in the USA. c

Technologies in dialogue Sesca Group grows briskly by investing in product development.

also refers to. The Group’s main divisions are Sesca Technologies and Sesca Solutions. “ICT and automation technologies are growing closer in any case, as both technology and components evolve. Merging the two fields leads to more efficient and economic solutions,” says Niemelä. More respect for product development Entrepreneurial companies often remain small. In addition to a clear growth strategy, an important element behind Sesca’s success is its emphasis on product development. “Young companies in the US, for example, often make big investments in product development, and both customers and investors appreciate this. Here, competence does not always get the respect it deserves. In international comparisons, Finland has exceptionally few medium-sized companies,” says Niemelä, who also has experience of other growth companies, such as Vacon and Vaasa Engineering. Niemelä believes that Sesca Group will continue to grow in the future. Solidly rooted in the coastal region


ust a decade ago, Sesca was a small software firm set up by three childhood friends. Since then it has grown into an international corporation with hundreds of employees and a turnover of tens of millions of euros. The initial push for steep growth came from customers. “Over 80 per cent of our growth has been organic and the rest of it is based on acquisitions,” says Harri Niemelä, Chairman of the Board. Sesca specialises in solutions featuring both ICT and process automation, which is what the company’s slogan, “Technologies in Dialogue”,

UPM’s mills in Jakobstad are among the companies that have adopted Sesca’s knowledge management system, Alma. Pictured here are two pulp towers.

Despite its rapid growth, Sesca has maintained its entrepreneurial spirit and a distributed organisation. Key employees are often partners in the small Group companies. Sesca operates in over ten Finnish cities and has ten offices abroad. “The coastal region is Sesca’s core area. It is often easier to find skilled employees and co-operate with schools and universities in smaller localities. Furthermore, employee turnover is smaller than in places like Helsinki, which is an obvious advantage in a skills-based sector.” c Sesca Group Oy Tel. +358 6 781 1335 (Sesca Technologies) Tel. +358 29 003 9110 (Sesca Solutions)

“We have grown US style: by investing in product ­development,” says Harri Niemelä.

Business Sector: Technologies, services and solutions for the IT, energy and process industries Turnover 2007:€€32 million Employees: 445 Export: 40% Major markets: Scandinavian countries

coastline • 2008  73

Developing mobile phones Sasken from India and Botnia Hightech from Finland join forces.


n 2006 Sasken, an Indian listed company, acquired Botnia High­ tech from Finland. The deal resulted in a unique company in the IT industry: Sasken’s product development services cover all fields related to mobile phones, from components to maintenance. “There were hardly any overlapping operations. The companies actually complemented one another. Sasken has traditionally been strong in networks, ICs and software, while Botnia Hightech was well versed in Symbian and hardware matters. We also complement each other geographically,” says Hannu Jyrkkä, CEO of Sasken Finland. Sasken now has four strong product development units around the world: in Finland, India, China and Mexico. Growing needs In the early 21st century Botnia Hightech grew accustomed to annual organic growth of nearly 100 per cent. Customers, however, wanted to see even steeper growth, as well as a global service network. The company believed that big international investments were too risky to be made on its own, so it set out to find a partner. Since Sasken was also looking for growth, the companies had no difficulties reaching an agreement. Soon after the merger, around twenty of Sasken’s employees from India spent one year in Finland, getting acquainted with local operations. “This will enable us to duplicate our know-how. The team that visited us will now be in charge of training others back in India,” explains Jyrkkä. Sasken’s offices in Finland are located in Kaustinen, Tampere, Oulu and Turku. The company has also stationed employees at customer premises in other cities. Recruitment of new employees is ongoing. Wide-ranging competence Sasken’s business consists mainly of product development of mobile phones, ICs, communication networks and other wireless electronic devices. Its customers are big international mobile phone companies, such as Nokia. “Mobile phone companies want as comprehensive a product portfolio as 74  coastline • 2008

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Product development of Symbian-based mobile phones is part of Sasken’s core competence.

Sasken’s international staff. From the left: Bhanu Prakash, David Jabez, Ari Tastula, Hannu Jyrkkä and Swadnadip Ghosh. The box in the foreground is used for mobile phone testing.

possible, but do not have the resources to focus on all technologies and every phase of product development. Symbian and Linux-based phones are part of our core competence. Sasken also has its own multimedia software and application framework, from which we can extract a model suitable for different customers,” says Jyrkkä. c

Sasken Tel. +358 10 408 1111 Fax +358 6 861 2370 Business sector: Communication technology R&D and support services Turnover: $109.7 million Employees: 3,500 (Finland 350) Major markets: Worldwide

Acting as the customer’s stuntwomen Citec benefits from the booming industry.

Patricia Rodas


itec, a provider of technical services, has grown fast in recent years thanks to the outsourcing trend. The company is continuously expanding its young and ethnically colourful team with new recruits. Since Citec’s operations depend on people, leadership plays a big part in the company’s activities. For a technology company, Citec has a considerable number of women on its staff. Tuula Koppanen, Lead Information Designer, and Terhi Päivike, Chief Design Engineer, both came to Citec following an outsourcing process carried out by their former employer and current customer. Initial uncertainty soon transformed into satisfaction.

Terhi Päivike and Tuula Koppanen came to Citec following an outsourcing process at their former employer. Both describe Citec’s atmosphere as being innovative and challenging.

“The working environment is innovative and full of challenges. Our duties, tools and project models develop continuously,” says Päivike. “I didn’t have a professional identity until I came to Citec. Here I get to work with many other people in the same special field,” says Koppanen. Linking different parties Citec Information provides userfriendly technical information and documentation. Over half of the unit’s employees are women, many of them with a degree in humanities. Tuula Koppanen, however, is Licentiate in electrical engineering. Mathematics has always been closest to her heart. “In my current job I act as a link between the end user, the customer’s technical designers and Citec’s technical writers. I look at products from the end users’ point of view to determine what they need to know in order to easily use the product,” explains Koppanen.

“Our customer is the star – we do the stunts.” Citec’s marketing concept was inspired by the world of action films.

Varied tasks Terhi Päivike works as team leader at the company’s fastest growing unit,

Citec Engineering. The unit provides advanced multi-discipline solutions and consulting services, focusing mainly on the power and vehicle industries and on industrial buildings. “I like the fact that my work is variable. A year ago I worked on final design, now I’m involved in the first phases of product design. In addition to fulfilling the actual order, I aim to provide added value to customers, such as tips for solving problems that were not directly part of the project,” says Päivike. c

Citec Companies Citec Engineering Citec Information Citec Environmental Tel. +358 6 3240 700 Fax +358 6 3240 800 Business sector: Engineering for industry, technical information, environmental consulting Customer segments: Power industry, telecom, industrial buildings, vehicles, health care, public entities Turnover 2007 (est): €46 million Employees: 850 Major markets: Northern Europe Certificates: ISO9001:2000

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Intelligence in the fuse box Telenor Cinclus delivers systems for automatic meter reading.


ost electricity, gas and water meters are still read manually. Customers pay for estimated consumption, and the meters are checked at a later time. A system like this ties up human resources and is vulnerable to human errors. Telenor Cinclus supplies comprehensive solutions for automatic meter reading (AMR). Thanks to AMR, power companies have direct access to the meters, and invoicing is based on actual consumption. “Sweden is the first country to have enacted a law that ensures automatic meter reading to all power customers. I am convinced that other countries will soon follow suit,” says Kristian Heimonen, Vice President of Telenor Cinclus in Vaasa.

Mats Sandström

Automatic meter reading offers advantages to both power companies and consumers.

Perfect match Kristian Heimonen founded a company offering automatic meter reading way back in 1999. His company was acquired by the Norwegian Telenor Cinclus in 2006, and today the Vaasa unit is in charge of terminals and embedded solutions within the Group. “It was a perfect match: we had the products, and Telenor Cinclus the contacts. We can offer customers the whole value chain on a turnkey basis. Another reason for the merger was the need to build up our power and weight, which are needed in this field due to the size of projects,” says Heimonen. Telenor Cinclus is a partly-owned subsidiary of Telenor, Norway’s biggest provider of telecommunications and other communications services. Many advantages Automatic meter reading offers many advantages. Consumers pay for the electricity they actually use and are becoming increasingly aware of their consumption. Power companies, in turn, get a better overview of network loading, while also saving resources. Automatic meter reading can also be used in the fields of district heating, gas and water. In addition, different types of alarms can be connected to meters as accessories. “There is room for many applications in other areas, as well, such as alarms for eldercare. We have only seen a hint of future possibilities,” says Heimonen. c 76  coastline • 2008

“In the long term, automatic meter reading will become obligatory in all EU countries,” says a confident Kristian Heimonen.

Telenor Cinclus Tel. +358 10 660 0000 Fax +358 6 318 2701 Business sector: Solutions for automatic meter reading (AMR) Turnover 2007: €650 million (Vaasa €50 million) Employees: 130 (Vaasa 25) Export: 99% Major markets: Scandinavia

Mats Sandström

Precision, performance and profitability Highly integrated calibration systems are Beamex’s trademark.

Mats Sandström

Beamex develops and manufactures firstrate calibrators and software used for demanding measurements of instruments in the process industry.

all around the world. Many of them have been with the company since its establishment. Beamex’s calibrators are versatile and provide accurate results for the measurement of temperature, pressure and electrical current. Official standards on calibration have been laid down in many fields, such as the pharmaceutical and nuclear power plant industries. In addition to these sectors, the oil and food industries are also big customers. “Calibration is needed because the accuracy and precision of instruments decline over time. High quality, efficient production and safety depend on precision. Calibrators offer customers business benefits, such as more efficient and accurate production,” says Raimo Ahola, Managing Director.


eamex is one of the world’s leading companies in calibration. Advanced technological competence and extensive after-sales

Raimo Ahola points out that calibration systems improve efficiency and productivity. Mats Sandström

customer service meet the most stringent demands of customers worldwide. Beamex’s product range includes portable calibrators, workstations, accessories and calibration software. Carefully designed industry-specific solutions complement the company’s service concept. Beamex’s global operations are centrally managed at the Pietarsaari unit. The company’s success is based on an extremely professional and motivated staff. Benefits to customers Beamex has thousands of wellknown corporations as its customers

Software skills The use of calibration systems leads to both improved quality and cost savings. A single Beamex calibrator can replace up to ten conventional measurement devices. Furthermore, Beamex is the only company in the world to offer software and service solutions in addition to equipment. “This makes for highly integrated calibration systems and for far fewer human errors in production and calibration documentation. Beamex also provides support for installation and training. Software in particular is growing more popular, since the trend is to increase the degree of automation. This can only be achieved with a software-based calibration system,” explains Raimo Ahola. c Beamex Oy Ab Tel. +358 10 550 5000 Fax +358 10 550 5404 Business sector: Beamex is a technology and service company that develops, manufactures and markets high-quality calibration equipment, software, systems and services for the calibration and maintenance of process instruments. Turnover 2006: €13 million Employees: 75 Export: Over 90% Major markets: Worldwide Certificates: ISO 9001:2000, ISO 17025, ATEX/IECEx Approval Parent company: Sarlin Group Oy Ab

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Mats Sandström

Intelligent code

UpCode can be used for numerous applications, such as eGovernment, logistics, marketing, orders, payments, CRM solutions, authentication, games, education and much more.

UpCode offers unforeseen opportunities from marketing to logistics.


ne of Australia’s biggest wine producers will begin to equip its bottle labels with a black-and-white or coloured code. While modest in appearance, the code offers practically unlimited opportunities for interaction and information distribution. Customers can use their mobile phones to read the code and learn, for example, where the wine is produced and what foods it suits. Furthermore, the code ensures that the customer is buying authentic produce instead of a cheap copy. “UpCode presents fantastic opportunities to fit a great deal of information in a small space and ensures that the information is always up to date. The code can be used for numerous purposes, such as marketing, tracking, logistics, orders, payments and authentication or verification. Moreover, it automatically gives the information in the right language,” explains Sture Udd, Managing Director of UpCode. Versatile system Once the code has been read, users can activate any of the available functions in their mobile phones. They can, for example, view a video feed of the decisive goal described in a foot78  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

ensure that the statutory fees have been paid. New business solutions

ball article or have the phone remind them when to take their medicine. The system also works interactively and creates report and asset management systems. Sture Udd began to develop UpCode only four years ago, but the system has already found use in various applications all around the world. The leading cigar maker in the Dominican Republic equips its packages with UpCode so that customers can watch in real time how their cigars are made. Helsinki City Transport uses the code at its bus stops to tell passengers how long they have to wait for the next bus to arrive, and in the USA it has been used to launch a nationwide mobile discount coupon scheme. The code is also used in Kuala Lumpur to check the authenticity of licenses and

“Only the imagination sets limits to UpCode’s use,” says Sture Udd, creator of the system.

“Only the imagination sets limits to the code’s use,” says Udd, whose innovation has not needed much marketing. Udd gets a steady flow of queries from customers interested in the system, whose reputation precedes itself. “It is not just technology we sell, but more importantly we offer solutions and concepts for using the code. People are often stuck in old thought patterns and find it difficult to comprehend all the fantastic opportunities the code offers. We create a host of new business opportunities. A milk container can be made into a new information channel.” c UpCode Ltd UPC Communication Centre (UPC Consulting Ltd) Tel. +358 6 3218000 Fax +358 6 3218001 Customer Relations: Camilla Sellberg Business sector: Systems for mobile access and interaction Turnover 2007: €22 million Employees: 70 Export: 50% Major markets: Worldwide

Baltic yachts are admired all around the world: here Baltic’s 152-footer ‘Pink Gin’.

More desirable than ever Baltic is expanding – in yacht and yard size.


altic Yachts, manufacturer of fully customised yachts, is experiencing a long boom period with no end in sight. The company’s order books are filled far into the future. Managing Director Lisbeth Staffans tries to pinpoint the yard’s success: “The boats are obviously the main reason. They have good sailing characteristics, most of them are tailored to customers and they are admired for their beauty,” she says. Staffans also emphasises Baltic’s excellent professional skills and its modest approach to its work. Moreover, the region benefits from a strong network of boatbuilders. “This is a secure place for handling expensive projects. Many people are attracted to our unassuming and down-to-earth lifestyle,” adds Staffans. “Going over 200” Years ago, Baltic decided to start building yachts over 100 feet. This proved to be crucial to the company’s

Quality takes time

“Our new hall near the port will enable us to offer brand service to our customers,” says Lisbeth Staffans, Baltic Yachts’ Managing Director.

success. Baltic now delivers boats slightly under 200 feet, and Staffans sees no obstacle to the company exceeding the 200-foot limit. Baltic’s new production hall in the port of Jakobstad plays an important part in this respect. It does away with the 20-kilometre drive previously needed to get Baltic’s bigger boats to the sea and enables the site in Jakobstad to offer brand service, which has, until now, been arranged in co-operation with other yards around the world. “The service is important to both our customers and us. It will show us what we can do even better,” says Staffans.

Today, over 550 Baltic yachts sail the seas worldwide. Despite the huge interest shown in the yachts, Staffans does not believe the company should speed up production. “Most of our yachts are custommade down to the smallest detail. It is work that requires time – otherwise it would cease to be craftsmanship.” Some of Baltic’s yachts are semi-custom-made: their hull, at the very least, is made according to a given design. “Semi-custom is a good alternative for less experienced sailors. It lowers the threshold for purchasing a boat,” explains Staffans. c Baltic Yachts Oy Ab Ltd. Tel. +358 6 781 9200 Fax +358 6 781 9222 Business sector: Custom-made superyachts Turnover 2007:€€17.8 million Employees: 130 Export: 100% Major markets: Europe, USA

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Roomy living spaces

Linex Boat will introduce a new 40-foot offshore boat in spring 2008.

Linex Boat makes boats for the northern hemisphere.


lli Lindkvist is a thirdgeneration boatbuilder. In all, the Lindkvists have built over 3,000 boats. The family-owned manufacturer of Nord Star boats bases its success on high quality and a modern approach to production. It sells boats for both pleasure and utility to many different countries and handles the entire production process from beginning to end. “It is easier to react and make changes when you design and construct the boats yourself,” says Managing Director Olli Lindkvist. Comfort and style Linex Boat makes boats for a unique customer segment. “Our goal has been to make boats that offer more style and comfort. Moving around in them is also easy, which is something that benefits the aging majority of boat owners.” Offshore boats have big markets, and 85 per cent of Linex Boat’s production is exported. The company has customers in 12 countries all around 80  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

the northern hemisphere. The European and Russian boat markets are doing well at the moment. “We have also sold many boats to Greece and France recently. Our customer base expands with one new country every year.” Lindkvist had the honour of picking up the ISO 9001:2000 certificate awarded to the company. “The fact that we personally train all employees definitely contributed to our getting the certificate.” The company’s expanded production facilities also came on line recently. By the end of the year, the facilities will cover more than one hectare in all. Product development has 1,500 square metres at its disposal. Personal design Nord Star Patrol boats are identifiable by their individual design: a mix of classic forms and the latest trends. “The cabins of many other boats are designed to be gently slanted, but in our Patrol boats they resemble those

“We expect our turnover to reach 20 million euros in 2008,” says Olli Lindkvist.

of traditional fishing trawlers.” The Nord Star boats have more powerful engines than many other manufacturers’ models in the same size range. Linex Boat’s latest model has been designed for use with Volvo IPS inboard engines. High quality and reliability are features that the company never compromises on. “We stick to our agreements, which is what our customers all around the world value highly,” says Lindkvist. c

Linex Boat Oy Tel. +358 207 290 540 Fax +358 6 834 9404 Business sector: Boat design and building Turnover 2006:€€12 million Export: 85% Employees: 100 Major markets: The northern hemisphere Certificates: ISO 9001

Nearly 200 US Coast Guard vessels will be powered by Rolls-Royce waterjets.

Trusted by professionals The US authorities choose Rolls-Royce waterjets.


nce the US Coast Guard completes the upgrade of its nearly 200-strong fleet of 41-footers, its boats will be powered by waterjets made by Rolls-Royce in Kokkola. The vessels are used, for example, in search and rescue operations and for surveillance purposes. “This project is an important step for us in the US market,” says Director Tomas Renlund. The Rolls-Royce Kokkola unit manufactures aluminium waterjets and is the European market leader in its field. Waterjets for military purposes are an important part of its business. “Our jet propulsion units have properties that are vital in difficult conditions. They feature exceptional manoeuvrability and reliability and allow boats to safely enter shallow waters. Waterjets also accelerate quickly and work with high-efficiency at different speeds,” says Renlund. Impressive performance Rolls-Royce jet propulsors are used, for example, by all the Nordic navies and the Italian customs authorities. The reasons for this are many. Boats equipped with waterjets are easy to

Mats Sandström

Fast catamarans Rolls-Royce also serves other professional seafarers. Equally important as the military are the fast catamarans used for passenger transports, as well as waterjets for big luxury motor yachts. “This is a growing sector, and we co-operate, for example, with many Italian boatbuilders,” says Renlund. Rolls-Royce aims to become a global market leader in aluminium waterjets and last year invested 700,000 euros in its machinery to increase production volumes and enhance precision. c “Asia is an interesting next step for use. We already deliver products to Malaysia, Japan and South Korea,” says Tomas ­Renlund.

rotate, steer sideways and reverse. The aluminium frame jet is lightweight and creates minimal water resistance. In addition, the propulsion unit is well protected inside the boat. The electronic joystick steering can be easily moved from one steering location to another at the push of a button. Instead of a trim system the boat is balanced by interceptors integrated into the steering system. Most people are impressed by a test run. “It sure has power” was the comment made by the normally low-key former Finnish Prime Minister.

Rolls Royce Oy Ab, Kokkola unit Tel. +358 6 832 4500 Fax +358 6 832 4511 Business sector: Waterjet propulsion units from 100 to 2,800 kW Turnover 2007:€€15 million Employees: 70 Export: 85% Major markets: Worldwide Parent company: Rolls-Royce plc Turnover 2006: £7.2 billion Employees: 38,000

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Solid expertise after forty years. Edy Sarin in his first boat from 1962. In the background, one of Sarin’s Boats newest Minor models.

Forty years of loving the sea Experience guarantees outstanding performance of Sarin’s boats.


strobothnia’s oldest motorboat yard lies right on the coast in Kokkola. Sarin’s boats are built for buyers seeking seaworthy performance and comfort and bear the stamp of founder Edy Sarin’s philosophy of life at sea: it needs to be practical. He was the first to build an aft cabin fibreglass boat because there had to be space on the fore deck for Ostrobothnians’ fishing nets. He started up the boatyard in 1967, and today Sarin’s builds all-season boats for a growing number of customers in Europe and Japan. The company’s share of boats for export has increased from 30 per cent in the ’90s to over 85 per cent at present. “We make boats that suit the European market. They’re adapted for high speeds and high comfort,” says Sales Manager Thomas Sarin. Family boats The family company has had the right feel for boats since the very beginning. Edy Sarin sold his first boats at a much faster pace than he was able to make them, and since the mid-90s, the company’s success has continued unabated. “I think the design and functional82  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

ity of our boats are what appeal to customers. They perform well in all weather conditions – they’re not only designed to look good when they’re anchored at dock.” Sarin’s customer base is made up largely of people who know what they want in a boat. “We have also focused on building secure boats for all ages. It’s easy for families with children to move about onboard, and cargo can be handled smoothly and effortlessly,” says Lillemor Sarin, Managing Director. Winning concept Sarin’s has doubled its turnover in two years, partly because of an efficient network of contractors. “We were among the pioneers in ‘network thinking’ in the ‘80s,” says Thomas Sarin. The concept of all-season boats is gaining popularity, also among competitors, but Sarin has confidence in the company’s long experience in the field. “We are working even harder on our models, the aim being to become the best in Europe. The Russian market is our next challenge.” c

Lillemor Sarin with the following generation in the business, sons David and Thomas.

Sarins Båtar Ltd Tel. +358 824 0700 Fax +358 824 0721 Business sector: All-season boats Turnover 2006: €8.7 million Employees: 40 Export: 85% Major markets: Northern Europe, Japan

Strong belief in the future UPM’s mills in Jakobstad are ready for new challenges.


he forest industry has faced a host of challenges in the 21st century. The paper markets in North America and Europe have matured, forcing companies to come up with new methods for preserving their competitiveness. Similar to many other pulp and paper production units, UPM’s mills in Jakobstad have undergone many change processes in recent years. Enhanced production, outsourced operations and focusing on core operations have enabled workforce reductions. “After all the changes, we now have a competitive structure. We can concentrate on increasing our own competence and boosting our belief in the future. Our objective is to make the most of the enormous know-how

Pertti Puranen

“After all the changes, UPM’s mills in Jakobstad now have a competitive structure”, says Jari Haapaniemi.

of our staff,” explains Jari Haapaniemi, Director, HR, UPM Wisaforest. Pulp and speciality papers In conjunction with the structural changes, the UPM Jakobstad site has focused on its core operations, that is, on pulp and paper production, while outsourcing other operations. The region is home to UPM Wisapulp, one of the world’s biggest pulp mills. One-fourth of the pulp produced at the mill is used by UPM Wisapaper, a neighbouring paper mill that focuses on white speciality papers used, among other things, for bags and packaging.

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Pertti Puranen

Pertti Puranen

UPM Wisaforest A profit centre within the UPM Fine and Speciality Papers Division Tel. +358 204 16 113 Fax +358 204 16 8803 Products: Softwood (pine and spruce) and hardwood (birch and eucalyptus) chemical pulp for 100% use within the UPM Corporation. Other products: tall oil, turpentine, steam, electricity and bark. Production capacity: 787,000 t Employees: •  Wisapulp (pulp mill): 260 •  Shared services: 278 Certificates: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, EMAS, OHSAS 18001

Pertti Puranen

UPM Wisapaper A profit centre within the UPM Fine and Speciality Papers Division Tel. +358 204 16113 Fax +358 204 16 8005 Products: Bleached and unbleached kraft and sack paper grades Production capacity: 190,000 t Employees: 134 Major markets: EU Certificates: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, EMSAS, OHSAS 18001, EU-Flower

Good location According to Jari Haapaniemi, UPM’s mills in Jakobstad offer many benefits for the future. “The mills are young in terms of their technology and they have been continuously developed. The pulp mill’s new recovery line is the largest of the recent projects. Our location near the port is a big competitive advantage when aiming to minimise transport costs. Moreover, the market situation for speciality papers has not been as difficult as that for printing papers.” The change process has also led to enhanced communications. “Open and honest communication within the company plays a key role. It is easier to deal with changes if you 84  coastline • 2008

understand their background and motives. We have actively collected our employees’ opinions and are introducing measures based on their proposals,” says Haapaniemi. Environmentally friendly paper UPM is one of the world’s biggest paper producers. The company’s strategy is to continuously search for new business areas and keep up to date with customer and market expectations. “There are probably numerous innovations still waiting to be made in the paper industry,” remarks Haapaniemi. He believes that environmental friendliness will become an increasingly important competitive advantage for paper products. After

UPM is one of the world’s biggest paper producers. The company’s strategy is to continuously search for new business areas.

all, they are made of 100 per cent renewable natural material and are fully recyclable. UPM’s Jakobstad integrated mill site makes full use of wood raw material. The parts of raw material that are unsuitable for paper production are used to produce energy. By-products from pulp production include electrical and thermal energy, as well as a product that can be used for biodiesel production. Most of the energy used at the mills comes from renewable sources. The mill site also houses the world’s biggest bio power plant, Alholmens Kraft. UPM is a partner in the power plant through its energy holdings. c

Making good better Pertti Puranen

Ream wraps are Walki’s growth products and constitute a niche that the company wants to develop.

The new Walki is set on growth.


mproving on a good concept is exactly what Walki is doing for its customers and to its own operations. Walki uses its core competence – extrusion and lamination of industrial packaging and paper-based materials – to generate added value to its customers. The company itself is undergoing an extensive enhancement process at the moment. In 2007 it was sold by UPM-Kymmene to CapMan, an investment company. Walki’s focus is now on growth. “We will grow considerably and plan to do so through acquisitions, by expanding our strong market position in Europe both eastward and southward and by getting bigger in Asia,” says Leif Frilund, President and CEO of Walki. Innovation and vision

Frilund believes in Walki’s chances to reach its goals. “Our market position and technological skills are good, our owners are growth-oriented and our long-term focus is not hampered by strict quarterly thinking,” he summarises. Walki’s products fall into three ar-

“Walki’s new owner is strongly growth-oriented, as will be seen in the coming years,” says Leif Frilund, President and CEO.

Proficient in the paper industry

eas: paper packaging, consumer board and technical products. The common denominator of all areas is their technological foundation: extrusion coating. “Innovation is one of our strengths. This will be further boosted at our Jakobstad plant, which will serve as the Group’s R&D centre. We are also very service-minded, and this is where we see potential for further development: we want to learn how to better predict our customers’ future needs and develop the entire service concept.”

The Jakobstad plant is primarily involved in the manufacture of reel and ream wraps for the paper industry and accounts for 40 per cent of the Group’s production volume. Frilund feels confident about the product group’s development. “We have the right equipment in Jakobstad and enjoy good co-operation with our paper supplier. Ream wraps, in particular, are big growth products.” In addition to the Jakobstad plant, the Walki Group includes another production unit in Finland, two in Germany, one in England, one in Sweden and one in China. c Walki Group Tel. +358 205 363111 Fax +358 205 369011 Business sector: Extrusion coated and laminated industrial wrappings and papers. The products can also be flexoprinted. Turnover 2006:€€300 million Employees: 1,000 Export: 84% Major markets: Europe, Asia, North America

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Nordautomation designs and delivers log handling machines and equipment. It is a Nordic leader in its field.

Goals through team play Nordautomation wants to be the European champion in log handling technology.


ordautomation’s Managing Director Pauli Ojala is a firm supporter of team play. In his view, a company’s success is rarely based on one star player, but rather on a team consisting of several professional individuals that work towards a common goal. “Our strengths are quality and punctual deliveries. These are made possible by a committed and flexible staff,” says Ojala. Nordautomation designs and manufactures log handling systems for the forest industry. Expanding exports The forest industry is sensitive to economic fluctuations. Nordautomation has long worked hard to promote exports, and its efforts are now producing good results in both old and new markets. In 2008 the share of exports will double to 80 per cent. “Exports to the west are strong, and we expect turnover to increase also in the east. We will deliver our biggest order ever in 2008, as part of the Ruukki Group’s investment in Russia.” Nordautomation’s strategy differs

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from that of many others in that the company has not actively outsourced its operations. “Customers get better service if we do most of the work ourselves. We can, for example, dispatch a maintenance technician as soon as needed,” explains Ojala. Innovations The Nordautomation team gives its players both freedom and responsibility. “Success at work is rewarded with pleasure and delight. Since we want to keep our customer contact interface as broad as possible, every member of the organisation can be in touch with clients,” explains Ojala. Nordautomation has always emphasised staff training and product development. More recently, product development has resulted in innovations that will expand the product portfolio into the energy sector. “The idea of a bio power plant for distributed power production came up when I was thinking about our existing competence and the fields that hold future promise. The only power

“We are going for hard results with soft methods,” says Pauli Ojala.

plant component that we aren’t yet familiar with is the furnace itself,” says Ojala. c Nordautomation Oy Tel. +358 6 220 3500 Fax +358 6 220 3550 Business sector: Machines and facilities for mechanical and chemical wood processing, especially log handling Turnover 2008: €15 million Employees: 90 Export 2008: 80% Major markets: Finland, Sweden, the Baltic countries, Russia

In favour of pulp and paper Kemira’s chemical products enhance production and save the environment.


ore efficient and environmentally friendly production, lighter papers and more fillers: the list of objectives in today’s pulp and paper industry is a long one. The same objectives form the core of operations at Kemira Pulp&Paper, a supplier of chemicals and chemical solutions for the industry. In co-operation with pulp and paper producers and the forest industry, the company strives to create solutions that promote efficiency and machine runnability, as well as pulp and paper quality. “For example, the utilisation rate of paper machines can be raised considerably with our solutions.

The goal of Kemira Pulp&Paper is to make the pulp and paper industry’s production chain more efficient. The Pulp&Paper Technology Centre in Vaasa is the company’s undisputed expert.

“The utilisation rate of paper machines can be raised considerably with our chemicals and solutions,” says Jani Lösönen. Mats Sandström

This, in turn, has a positive impact on the financial effectiveness of paper producers,” explains Jani Lösönen, Kemira’s Site Manager in Vaasa. Competence Centre in Vaasa Kemira Pulp&Paper is the world’s leading supplier of pulp and paper chemicals. The company offers global presence, working in close co-operation with its key customers. It has set up production sites and research centres in Europe and the Americas and most recently in China. The technology centre in Shanghai has served the growing Asian market since November 2007. “We operate in 30 countries. Local presence is crucial, since the raw materials and processes used in pulp and paper production and, consequently, the requirements on chemicals may vary depending on the geographical location. A local service offering and solutions that are developed jointly with customers are also important,” says Lösönen. The Pulp&Paper Technology Centre in Vaasa plays an important part in the company’s research and development activities. “For example, the know-how accumulated in Vaasa was an absolute ne-

cessity when setting up the technology centre in Shanghai,” adds Lösönen. Throughout the chain Kemira Pulp&Paper delivers comprehensive solutions, not just plain chemicals. The solutions encompass the whole value chain in the pulp and paper industry, from pulp production to paper coating. “Our product portfolio is the most extensive on the market. Service and competence are an integral part of our offering. We recently signed our first overall agreements, which put us in charge of all the chemicals needed throughout the paper production process,” explains Lösönen. c

Kemira Oyj Kemira Pulp&Paper Tel. +358 10 861216 Fax +358 10 8627448 Business sector: Pulp and Paper chemicals Turnover 2007: estimated around €1 billion Employees: 2,500 (Vaasa unit: 280) Export: 45% (Vaasa) Major markets: Worldwide Parent company: Kemira Oyj Turnover 2006: €2.5 billion Employees: 9,300

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Emissions-free electricity Etelä-Pohjanmaan Voima actively invests in bioenergy.

Etelä-Pohjanmaan Voima acts as a link between production companies and its owners, benefiting all parties.


telä-Pohjanmaan Voima is a power company that specialises in the production, procurement and transmission of electricity and heat. The company has significant holdings in different types of power production companies and delivers the power it procures this way to its owners at cost price. The operating principle has remained the same for decades and has proved to be functional. “We supply electricity to our owners at a price under the prevailing market price. It enables them to achieve good performance and growth, which, in turn, benefits us as well. Our turnover is growing at an annual rate of  20 million euros,” explains CEO Rami Vuola. Emphasis on wind power In the near future, the company will face challenges brought about by the EU’s requirement for a 20-per-cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 and an increase in the share of renewable energy sources used for power generation. This will have a big impact on the operations of Etelä-Pohjanmaan Voima in the near future. The company is actively looking for investment targets in future

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power production methods. This means increasingly bigger investments in bio, wind and nuclear power. “Last year we established two companies that invest in wind power. EPV Tuulivoima, for example, is looking for suitable areas for its plans to construct a considerable number of wind power plants in Ostrobothnia,” says Rami Vuola. Etelä-Pohjanmaan Voima has invested in nuclear power since the 1970s. It has a ten-per-cent share in Olkiluoto III, Finland’s fifth nuclear power plant currently under construction in Olkiluoto. Aiming at international growth Etelä-Pohjanmaan Voima, which now operates on the holding principle, was founded in the 1950s to serve regional electricity companies in what was then the province of Vaasa. Its primary purpose was to connect local distribution networks and jointly invest in power generation in order to achieve economy-of-scale benefits. Currently, the biggest of the company’s own investment projects is the electricity and heat production plant under construction in Tornio in northern Finland. Over the years, the company’s operating region has

Mats Sandström

According to Rami Vuola, future investment opportunities lie in emissions-free power production methods.

expanded from the coast to the rest of Finland and the Nordic countries. The goal is to further expand operations to the Baltic countries and regions neighbouring Russia. c

Etelä-Pohjanmaan Voima Tel. +358 6 3375300 Fax +358 6 3375319 Business sector: Electricity procurement. Efficient utilisation of electricity procurement resources owned by or available to the company, with the objective of continuously improving the competitiveness of energy supplied to partners. Electricity transmission through Etelä-Pohjanmaan Alueverkko Oy, a subsidiary. Electricity procurement: 4 TWh Turnover: €113 million Employees: 15

Forerunner in bio-fuels Mats Sandström

Alholmens Kraft hopes to increase the use of biofuels, such as reed canary grass, to cap its CO 2 emissions.

Alholmens Kraft sets an example in the global carbon dioxide race. Mats Sandström

Development in reed canary grass


he global energy industry’s pursuit of new ways to use bio-fuels has been noted at Alholmens Kraft, the world’s biggest bio-fuelled power plant, located in Jakobstad. The management receives delegations from Russia to Australia, all with the same goal: to get good ideas on how to increase the use of bio-fuels and decrease carbon dioxide emissions. “The demand for bio-fuels is on the increase all over the world due to climate change, emissions trading and the Kyoto protocol. This means that we, too, are looking for more renewable fuels,” says Stig Nickull, Managing Director.

“We are known all around the world and are contacted by many parties concerning the use of bio-fuels,” says Stig Nickull.

Alholmens Kraft has produced electricity and district heating from forest industry by-products and logging residue since 2002. “We are hoping to use more thinning wood from young forests and increase the use of field biomass,” explains Nickull. As for field biomass, the company has tested reed canary grass, cultivated by local farmers, and found it to be a good fuel. However, to make more use of it, a number of issues must first be solved. “We now have to deal with all the administrative processes that the EU requires of farmers. To make transports more efficient we also need to find a way to further compress the product at the producer’s end. Crushing and grinding, carried out before the material is fed into the power plant, must also be developed,” says Nickull. More waste Nickull believes that growing demand will lead to overseas bio-fuel transports. Alholmens Kraft is now

waiting for the fairway next to the power plant to be made deep enough for 40,000-ton vessels. Meanwhile, the company complements its fuel mix with peat, among other things. Waste is also becoming an increasingly important fuel. “We are expanding our fuel reception capacity from 50,000 to 120,000 tonnes,” says Nickull. The facility also aims to minimise its own energy consumption. “Improvements in, for example, fan control and pumps have enabled energy savings that correspond to eight 1-megawatt wind power plants,” says Stig Nickull. c

Oy Alholmens Kraft Ab Tel. +358 20 416 115 Fax +358 20 416 8550 Business sector: Power production based on bio-fuel: electricity, process steam and district heating Electricity production: 2,000 GWh Heat production: 560 GWh Turnover 2007: €65 million Employees: 8 + 42 subsuppliers in production + 300 subsuppliers in fuel production

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A powerful society

Alholmens Kraft is one of Katternö’s trumps in CO 2 -free electricity production.

Katternö strives to meet environmental demands.


nvironmental requirements, especially the Kyoto Protocol, and compliance with them have grown increasingly important in power production. “The challenge is to emit as little carbon dioxide as possible when producing electricity,” says Stefan Storholm, Managing Director of the Katternö power company. Katternö is doing well in this respect, thanks to its holding in Alholmens Kraft, the world’s biggest bio power plant located in Jakobstad. As fuel, the plant uses largely CO2 -free by-products from the forest industry and forestry, and is developing its capacity for waste incineration, another source of low-emission fuel. “Alholmens Kraft has also invested in its own shipping company to ensure the availability of imported biofuel,” says Storholm. Betting on peat Katternö aims to bear its social responsibility: to supply electricity to customers at a competitive price. That is why the company also invests in other CO2 -free fuels. “We are involved in a hydropower project in Norway and wind power

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projects in Northern Finland. Our plans also include a regional wind power site in Kanäs, Nykarleby,” adds Storholm. Katternö’s fuel mix includes peat. It is now classified as non-renewable, which makes it an expensive fuel due to carbon dioxide expenses. “Peat is renewable in the long term and a nationally vital energy source: Finland has 9 million hectares of peatland. According to estimates, our five million hectares of ditched mosses have energy resources bigger than all the North Sea oil reserves. We are betting on peat and believe it will get a more favourable classification.” Self-sufficient To reduce Finland’s dependence on fossil fuels, power companies must adopt CO2 -free energy forms also on a large scale. That is why Katternö became a founder in Fennovoima, a company promoting a new nuclear power plant in Finland. “Nuclear power is part of the solution to the CO2 problem. It is a basic power source that is available irrespective of external conditions,” says Storholm.

Mats Sandström

“Katternö plays a key role in social responsibility and development of society,” says Stefan Storholm.

Katternö’s emphasis on its regional network is another form of social responsibility. “If the national power grid would suffer from longer interruptions Alholmens Kraft can ensure power supply to our local customers.” c The Katternö Group Tel. +358 6 7815300 Fax +358 6 7815322 Business sector: Production, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity Turnover 2007: €100 million Employees: 230 Customers: 60,000 Own capacity: 270 MW Power transmission: 1.2 TWh District heating: 0.3 TWh

Ready for change The KWH Group manufactures everything from abrasives to plastic pipes.


apidly adapting to new market needs is a normal part of modern business life. The KWH Group, one of Finland’s biggest family companies, has been doing it for decades. Throughout its lifetime, the company has always managed to adapt to changing needs and has been involved in many different sectors. Today, the Group’s operations fall into four main fields: KWH Pipe (plastic pipes), KWH Plast (plastic films and packaging), KWH Mirka (abrasives) and KWH Logistics. “Our business idea is to invest in medium-sized niche companies operating on the global markets. They

The KWH Group’s business idea is to run several medium-sized niche companies operating on global markets.

generate the best profits, but also carry the biggest risks. Thanks to the Group being active in many fields, we are able to spread our risks,” says Managing Director Peter Höglund. The Group has joint financial assets. This enables more profitable businesses to finance the product development and investments of companies still in the development phase. Mirka – the crown jewel By far the most successful KWH company at the moment is Mirka, a manufacturer of abrasives. The

company is now reaping the benefits of long-term and successful investments in product and process development. Among other things, Mirka has patented an innovation that enables dust-free sanding. “Abranet is a unique product. The sanding discs are glued onto a mesh instead of paper, and this enables sanding dust to be sucked up through the material,” explains Peter Höglund. Mirka also focuses on abrasives in which the traditional paper backing has been replaced with plastic. While plastic makes the process more complicated, it offers better opporcoastline • 2008  91

KWH Group Ltd Parent company Tel. +358 6 326 5111 Turnover 2007 (group): €547 million Employees 2007 (group): 2,855 KWH Pipe Ltd Tel. +358 6 326 5511 Business sector: PE, PP, PVC and preinsulated pipe systems, machinery and technology Turnover 2007: €276 million Major Markets: Europe, Southeast Asia, North America KWH Mirka Ltd Tel. +358 20 760 2111 Business sector: Coated abrasives Turnover 2007: €144 million Major markets: USA, Europe, Far East KWH Plast Ltd Tel. +358 20 768 6111 Business sector: PVC and PP films for stationery and labels, PP films and injection moulded products for food packaging Turnover 2007:€€45 million Major markets: EU Oy Backman-Trummer Ab Tel. +358 6 323 9111 Business sector: International transports, forwarding, stevedoring and bulk storage Turnover 2007: €65 million KWH Freeze Ltd Tel. +358 9 348 211 Business sector: Storage and handling of frozen foods Turnover 2007: €8 million Oy Prevex Ab Tel. +358 6 781 8000 Business sector: HEPAC products and technical components for industrial use Turnover 2007: €12 million Major markets: The Nordic and the Baltic countries

tunities to work on very fine abrasive materials. Wide range of operations KWH Logistics, active in the transport and storage business, is also doing well. “We have expanded our cold storage in southern Finland. Seeing that there is too little freezing capacity in the country, the investment was well justified,” explains Höglund. The Group’s biggest company, KWH Pipe, has undergone a change process in recent years and is now well positioned for future operations. 92  coastline • 2008

The climate debate has worked in the company’s favour, since it has boosted the demand for district heating pipes. KWH Plast is currently the one experiencing the biggest changes in the Group. A manufacturer of office foils, the company has seen its market gradually decrease with more and more documents being stored in electronic format. “We have made big investments in packaging foils for foods and have a new line for manufacturing sevenlayered plastic film featuring good barrier properties. This is a good example of an investment that KWH Plast could not have made alone with-

Group manage­ ment, from the left: Tom J. Kronlöf (KWH Plast), Jyrki Uutio (KWH Pipe), Hannu Uusi-Pohjola (KWH Logistics), Peter Höglund (Group President), Kjell Antus (KWH Invest) and Ralf Karlström (KWH Mirka).

out help from the rest of the Group,” says Höglund. A host of ideas According to Peter Höglund, the KWH Group has been fortunate in recent years. It has had many good business development ideas and sufficient funds to carry them out. Overall, business has been quite stable lately. “However, continuous renewal is still our motto. It is important to be prepared and have the required resources to carry out big changes if needed.” c

A tradition of personal service Rani Plast combines the soul of a family business with the volume of a big company. Mats Sandström

Rani Plast offers a broad range of plastic films for a wide variety of applications.

films are sent onward for further conversion in industry and agriculture. In addition, Rani Plast produces dielectric insulation film for capacitors. Skillful and flexible Relaxed and friendly are not empty words when describing Rani Plast’s personal service. This was proven by a customer survey done in 2007. Customers respect the company’s long traditions and the high quality of its products, and customer service is seen as expert, flexible and friendly. “The study confirmed many of the things we already knew instinctively. Our future plans include boosting our brand name and giving our image more attention,” says Ahlbäck, who has always felt that it should be fun to do business. Rani Plast is convinced that close, reliable relations with customers benefit both parties, also economically. Product development, purchasing routines and logistics are on ­A hlbäck’s list of areas that are enhanced when a company and its customers know each other well. Among the ten biggest


ani Plast has manufactured plastic film in the small village of Terjärv for more than fifty years. Today it has grown into a global enterprise, but the heart of the company, and its largest production unit, is still in the same village where it all began. “Although we are becoming big, also from an international perspective, we still want to retain the essence of the family business. That means a short distance between decisions and operations, and between management and employees,” says second generation company leader, Managing Director Mikael Ahlbäck. Rani Plast offers a broad range of polyethylene and polypropylene packaging solutions. The packaging

Mats Sandström

Rani Plast has long been the largest company in its field in Finland. After the completion of new factory facilities in Terjärv in 2004 the company is on its way to becoming one of the largest in Europe. “Our goal is to hold our position as one of the ten major players in this line of business in Europe. If we want more growth, we need to concentrate increasingly on e­ xports, especially to Eastern Europe,” ­A hlbäck adds. c

Rani Plast Tel. +358 20 768 0111 Fax +358 20 768 0200

Rani Plast is led today by the second generation of Ahlbäcks. Mikael Ahlbäck is Managing Director. His father, Nils Ahlbäck, founded the company.

Business sector: Polyethylene and polypropylene films for packaging, agriculture and industry. Turnover 2006:€€155 million Export: 60% Employees: 440 Major markets: Europe Certificates: ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001

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World class stainless tubes require a world class organisation. At OSTP the whole organisation is being developed, all the way down to the individual, in order to supply superior tubular products.

On the route to world class Outokumpu aims at absolute leadership in stainless steel.


he goals that Outokumpu Stainless Tubular Products, OSTP, has set for itself are by no means minor ones. The company is aiming at no less than absolute world leadership in stainless steel, and in Jakobstad the OSTP tubular production unit is well on its way toward this goal. The unit is already equipped with leading-edge technology. “Our two new laser welding lines allow us to work inline. This means the production process runs in a single flow, with no intermediate processing, which is one reason for our top competitive position. Now we have begun investing in the human side of production,” says Bengt Råbacka, General Manager. Everyone bears responsibility The goal of becoming world leader on a wide front requires the input of every individual at OSTP. In the company’s view, world leadership encompasses everything from quality to delivery, and a customer value-added approach that includes customerspecific pipe dimensions and just in time deliveries.

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Mats Sandström

“The units are all following a common plan, starting from orderliness in both the working environment and working processes. From there we will expand our efforts to the individual responsibilities of each operator and then to constantly improving work methods at every machine unit,” explains Råbacka. Stainless future Outokumpu’s development programme follows in the wake of many earlier achievements. The demands on the steel at the Jakobstad unit are high. The large and old customer bases in the pulp, paper and chemical industries have their special needs, but new material properties are being developed the whole time, making room for future products for new sectors. “Water treatment and desalination of sea water are new and growing areas for us, as are oil and gas extraction, now that the field is moving from ‘simple’ sources to increasingly challenging extraction conditions.” c

OSTP holds the world record in laser welding of tubes in dimensions of 125–500 milli­ metres. “It’s a precision skill. The joints must be an exact fit,” says Bengt Råbacka.

Outokumpu Stainless Tubular Products Tel. +358 6 786 5111 Fax +358 6 786 5222 Business sector: Longitudinally welded stainless steel pipes, tubes and fittings. Turnover 2006:€€150 million Employees: 220 Export: 80% Markets: Worldwide; major markets in Europe Certificates: ISO 9001, ISO 14001 Parent Company: Outokumpu Turnover 2006: €6,100 million Employees: 8,200

Better batteries

OM Group continues investments in new cobalt processes. Mobile phones and computers show the way for future development.

OMG Kokkola Chemicals meets the challenges set by portability. Mats Sandström

Portability creates new markets


MG Kokkola Chemicals Oy, an international developer of industrial chemicals, is a market leader in the production of cobalt compounds. The end products from the plant in Kokkola are sold as refined cobalt chemicals to the chemical, metal and ceramics industries. “The Kokkola plant also produces fine cobalt powders for hard metal and diamond tool applications, such as drill heads, diamond saws and tyre studs. In addition, cobalt refining generates usable by-products, such as germanium and copper,” explains Joni Hautojärvi, R&D Director.

According to Joni Hautojärvi, new cobalt compounds will increase the useful life of lithium batteries for portable devices.

One of the three research units of the US-headquartered OM Group is located in Kokkola. It is responsible for product and process development in the Inorganics business area. The R&D unit works in close co-operation with Kokkola’s global customer network. The Kokkola unit now focuses on developing materials for rechargeable lithium ion batteries, which are powered by cobalt oxide cathodes. “Lithium batteries have practically replaced nickel batteries in portable electronic devices. The markets are growing rapidly, as different kinds of portable devices are becoming increasingly common in our everyday lives. Mobile phones and computers show the way for future development.” According to Hautojärvi, future R&D must pay more attention to the safety of lithium ion batteries in order to prevent overheating. This means more stringent demands on the purity of raw materials.

Versatile germanium Cobalt is widely present in other metal minerals, although in small concentrations. Germanium, a byproduct of cobalt production, has many industrial uses. “Overall, the annual market for germanium totals some one hundred tonnes. The main areas of use are optical fibres and optical materials that let through thermal radiation and are used, for example, in night vision lenses. Germanium is also used for different kinds of catalysts and components for the electronics industry,” says Hautojärvi. c

OMG Kokkola Chemicals Tel. +358 6 828 0111 Fax +358 6 828 1260 Business sector: Metal-based speciality chemicals and powders Turnover 2006: €380 million Employees: 380 Export: 99% Major markets: Worldwide Quality assurance systems: ISO 9001 Environmental management system: ISO 14001 Health and safety management system: OHSAS 18001 Parent company: OM Group Inc.

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Ready for the next turn

Ahola Transport is seeing strong growth in the Baltic countries and plans to take a step towards the east next.

Ahola Transport grows in new markets with new services.


he enlargement of the European Union has led to an increase in goods flows to and from new markets. Ahola Transport has risen to meet the new needs. The company, long an important player in the Nordic transport sector, today runs over 70 vehicles in the Baltic market – only a few years after setting up operations in the region. Turnover in the Baltic countries has doubled each year. “We have been growing strongly in the Baltic countries, hand in hand with our existing customers,” says Kaj Fagerholm, Operative Director. More than transport Ahola Transport is a family company with over 50 years of experience in the field. Its fleet consists of some 200 vehicles, the majority of which operate in the Nordic market. The company has achieved success, among other things, by taking overall responsibility for transports. “Each transport is the responsibility of a single person from beginning to end. This makes for safe and flexible transports, especially when combined with our transport hubs, which work more flexibly than traditional

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terminals,” explains Fagerholm. The transport hubs enable a large number of vehicles to be loaded and unloaded simultaneously, leading to faster and more flexible operations. The hubs play an important part in Ahola Transport’s efforts to offer the industry new storage, distribution and logistics services. “We want to meet customer needs in this field as well. For example, we offer the automobile industry daily transports to Sweden from suppliers in Finland, including consignmentlevel goods checks and efficient reloading at our transport hubs,” says Fagerholm. Certain transport types require special skills and equipment. The growing needs of the boat industry prompted Ahola Transport to set up a separate company, AT Boat Logistics, for this purpose. New markets Ahola Transport grows at an annual rate of 15–25 per cent and has more than doubled its turnover in the past five years. The company has developed in both established markets and the Baltic countries. In the near

Mats Sandström

“We take overall responsibility for our customers’ transports,” says Kaj Fagerholm.

future, growth will also take place in new markets. “It seems natural to look for growth in the east next,” says Kaj Fagerholm. c Oy Ahola Transport Ab Tel. +358 200 7747 5111 Fax +358 200 7747 5333 Business sector: Transport services Turnover 2007: €58 million Employees: 125 Export: 95% Major markets: The Nordic and the Baltic countries Quality assurance systems: ISO 9002, ISO 14001

Going east

Sundqvist Transport becomes SQ Logistics in conjunction with new investments in the east. Mats Sandström

SQ Logistics, the new name of Sundqvist Transport, is easier to use in international contexts. The new and old name will both be used during a transition period. Mats Sandström

The new route goes through the Baltic countries to Poland and neighbouring countries, such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Romania. New name


undqvist Transport already has a strong foothold in transports between Finland and Central Europe and is now focusing on Eastern Europe as well. In May 2007 it set up a fully owned subsidiary in Poland to serve the new transport region. “The idea actually came from our customers. We got numerous queries for transports to the new EU member states. It was obvious that many sectors needed transport services in the region,” says Managing Director Jan-Henrik Sundqvist.

“Great demand from customers encouraged us to invest in the new EU member states,” says JanHenrik Sundqvist.

In conjunction with the investment in new markets, the old family company decided to change its name to SQ Logistics, S and Q being picked from the name Sundqvist. The longterm plan is to adopt the new name in all activities, but the old logo will still feature on some of the company’s hundred or so vehicles for a while to come. “Many of our customers associate the name Sundqvist with reliability, flexibility and personal service. However, to market ourselves in the new regions, we need a name that is more simple and convenient in international contexts,” explains Jan-Henrik Sundqvist. Emphasis on personnel Sundqvist Transport’s international operations started in 1990 with

transports to Central Europe. Among other things, the company offers temperature-controlled transports of foodstuffs and delivers both full and part loads. To optimise logistics, it opened a goods terminal in Vantaa, in southern Finland, in 2005. Sundqvist Transport is particular about using new, clean vehicles and investing in environmental friendliness. The company also places a great deal of emphasis on its staff. “Motivated employees make it easier to achieve our goal: to keep our customers satisfied. Content customers, in turn, help us to achieve growth and profitability,” says Sundqvist. c

SQ Logistics

(Sundqvist Transport) Tel. +358 6 781 8800 Fax +358 6 781 8822 Business sector: Regular transports and customised routes Turnover 2007: €12.6 million Employees: 45 Export: 98% Major markets: Central Europe Certificates: ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:2003

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Service at all times Ekeri offers a 24-hour trailer hotline.

Fully openable side doors enhance the use of volume and weight. This is important when aiming at more efficient transports.


eing available after delivery and providing service whenever needed – that is what Ekeri’s total service concept is about. Ekeri is the leading Nordic and European manufacturer of truck bodies and trailers that feature fully openable side doors and are tailored to each individual customer. A proof of Ekeri’s commitment is the recently completed centre for sales, after sales, service and repair next door to the manufacturing facilities in Kållby, Finland. “We want to offer customers the very best quality under the same roof. The foremost expertise can be found here, right beside the plant. Direct customer contacts are also crucial when manufacturing customised products,” explains Managing Director Mikael Eklund. Ekeri has set up similar centres in Norway and Sweden and operates its own service network elsewhere in Europe. Response around the clock Ekeri’s service concept now features a new element: a service hotline that

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Mats Sandström

customers can call for help 24 hours a day wherever they are and whatever their problem. Thanks to its niche focus on fully openable side doors, Ekeri can meet the most demanding of transport needs. Its transport structures offer security against theft and ensure safe transport of goods with high quality demands. Above all, they ensure efficient transport: “Carriers can use volume and weight to the max, since the fully openable side doors make it possible to combine different types of sensitive goods and goods that are difficult to load,” says Eklund. New times, new demands Although Ekeri is growing at a good rate and its order books are full for the next twelve months, the company does its best to foresee future market needs. For example, it now offers a route computer as an accessory that can send SMS reports on the vehicle’s location, cargo space temperature or axle load. Driver ergonomics is also increasingly important: “What with the shortage of drivers

Mikael Eklund is the Managing Director of Ekeri, which has now passed its 50-year marker and is growing at a steady annual rate of 10 to 15 per cent.

in Europe, work must be made awomen drivers, for example,” says Eklund. c

Ab Ekeri Oy Tel. +358 6 788 7400 Fax +358 6 788 7412 Business sector: Trailers, semitrailers and truck bodies. Turnover 2007: €33 million Employees: 180 Export: 85% Major markets: The Nordic countries, Holland, UK and Germany.

One-stop shop

Mats Sandström

Närko expands its product range and begins to offer services to customers.


ärko is known as the biggest trailer manufacturer in the Nordic countries. The company is now taking a step forward from being just a manufacturer to offering customers comprehensive packages with different types of services. Närko’s new products include financing, maintenance, road side assistance and track and trace. “Our responsibility does not end when a trailer is sold. This is one way to differentiate ourselves on the market and offer something extra to customers,” says Kenneth Hellsten, Managing Director.

“Many customers have asked about different types of services, which is why we decided to expand our product range,” explains Kenneth Hellsten.

Many services Närko has set up a network of workshops for its new services all around Europe. Should customers have

In addition to trailers, Närko now offers financing, maintenance, road side assistance and track and trace tracking services.

problems with their trailers, they can get help around the clock by calling Närko’s service number. Normal maintenance, such as tyre change, is also offered around Europe. Customers get all of their basic services for a fixed monthly fee, which facilitates budgeting. Närko has also developed a novel method for the financing of new trailers. It is not bound to banks and can be offered in conjunction with tenders. Customers can order both a trailer and financing with a single signature. The last of the company’s new products, track and trace, is a GPSbased tracking system that enables customers to follow their transports in real time. The system makes it easier to monitor time-bound and temperature-controlled transports and is of great use in the case of theft. “Customers can pre-programme check points for a route. The system immediately sends out an alarm if the vehicle deviates from its planned route,” explains Hellsten. Longer trips The reason for Närko expanding its product offering to services is that the

transport sector has changed in recent years. “Medium-sized companies have exited, leaving only big and small companies in the sector. This means that fewer companies have their own workshops for maintenance. In addition, routes have grown longer and vehicles may be away for months on end. This makes it increasingly important to keep track of where each truck is located, as well as to get service outside the home country,” says Hellsten. Närko manufactures 1,400 trailers a year, mainly for the Nordic market. c

Oy Närko Ab Tel. +358 6 220 0111 Fax +358 6 220 0400 Business sector: Development, production and marketing of serial and customised trailers. A variety of supplementary services. Turnover 2006: €44 million Employees: 152 Export: 52% Main markets: The Nordic countries Parent company: Närko Group Turnover 2006: €78 million Employees: 333

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On a larger scale

In 46 years Leinolat Group has grown from a small family-owned company into a prominent metal product expert.

Experts join forces to break into new markets.


n 2008 four expert companies – Oy Leinolat Ab, Vamec Oy, Adiabatix Oy and Uwira Oy – will merge their operations to form the Leinolat Group. The turnover of the new Group will amount to 30 million euros. Vamec and Adiabatix were originally founded in the wake of Oy Leinolat Ab, which specialises in sheet metal products. Uwira joined the group through an acquisition. Vamec is a metal industry company that offers sheet metal mechanics, while Adiabatix focuses on industrial insulation in ship engines, oil rigs, nuclear power plants and other demanding environments. Uwira specialises in products for the energy and shipbuilding industries as well as welded products. Comprehensive solutions for customers “Big companies favour subcontractors that can offer comprehensive solutions. Instead of focusing our operations, we plan to further expand them in order to provide customers with bigger entities. The customer will get one big company instead of several smaller ones. This is the mo-

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Mats Sandström

tivation for our expansion,” explains Raimo Leinola, Managing Director of the Leinolat Group. The Group’s main customers are big Finnish energy industry companies. However, its recent diversification has also been noted abroad. “Our access door for ventilation ducts has been successfully introduced on the Swedish market, and we got out first orders from France last autumn. Export is also growing elsewhere in the EU and in Russia,” says Raimo Leinola. Next challenge from wind power stations Approximately 60 per cent of the Leinolat Group’s production is exported. The Group’s products are sold on all continents. Leinolat was set up in 1962 by a group of four, one of whom was the father of Raimo Leinola. The familyowned company first engaged in sheet metal work for the construction sector and grew gradually. The Leinolat Group now has its eyes set on renewable energy production, including pioneering wind turbines. “We are currently doing product development for a project involving

“Sixty per cent of the Leinolat Group’s production is exported. The broader concept opens doors to new markets abroad,” says Raimo Leinola, Managing Director of the Leinolat Group.

the construction of wind power stations,” says Leinola. c Leinolat Group Tel. +358 6 280 0000 Fax +358 6 361 6550 Business sector: Installation of air conditioning systems, sheet metal products, technical insulation, steel pipes, pressure tanks. Turnover 2007: €30 million Employees: 170 Export: 60% Major markets: Europe, USA Certificates: ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:2004

Fitness goes high-tech

HUR – technology leader in exercise machines – brings fitness to the broader population.


UR was founded at the University of Technology in Helsinki back in 1989. It all started as a research project in biomechanics at the Department for Aircraft Engineering. “The original aim was to develop equipment for high-speed training of athletes,” explains Mats Manderbacka, Managing Director. The result of the research was a novel air pressure-based resistance

HUR’s Smart Card training equipment brings exercise to a broader population.

“Air pressure has several advantages over the more traditional weight stacks,” says Mats Manderbacka. Mats Sandström

system. Air pressure has several advantages over the more traditional weight stacks, both in terms of ergonomics and user friendliness. For example, the machines are completely silent and the resistance can be set by the touch of a button. “The technology also appeals to people who would be intimidated by traditional weight stack equipment, such as seniors and overweight individuals. We have even installed machines in the office environment of companies to counter neck and shoulder problems,” explains Marika Mäkinen, Export Manager. Smart exercise machines The top of the range is the smart card controlled line of machines. “This represents the most advanced technology in exercise equipment available today,” explains Project Manager Ville Hietala. “These machines are controlled automatically by a smart card that contains the individual training programme. The user inserts the card into the machine and everything is set up automatically. As the person progresses the resistance automatically increases to keep the load on an optimal level. The training programme is also stored back on the database after the training session. Later

you can monitor or print out a report on your progress,” explains Hietala. Broad range of users Today more than 1,000 smart exercise machines have been shipped all over the world. The technology allows for a broad spectrum of users. The biggest market is Japan where the machines have been particularly successful in the senior market. In England the system is used in schools, and in Germany for physiotherapy. A popular chain of ladies gyms in the USA also uses the smart machines. Approximately 80 per cent of the 3,000 annually produced machines are exported. The biggest markets are Japan, the United Kingdom and Russia. c

HUR Oy Tel. +358 6 832 5500 Fax +358 6 832 5555 Business sector: Manufacture of fitness equipment Employees: 40 Turnover 2007: €7 million Export: 80% Major Markets: Japan, England, Germany and Russia

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The future is bright

Work lighting is expanding at Herrmans. Xenon lamps have revolutionised the useful life of lights, and LED technology will take this a step further.

Herrmans believes in LED-technology for worklights.


ED technology is carrying work lighting into a new era. Herrmans, a manufacturer of work lighting for heavy-duty use, has seen a steep increase in turnover in recent years thanks to long-life xenon lamps. Reijo Tiuraniemi, the company President, has every reason to believe in a bright future now that LED lamps are beginning to make inroads into work lighting. “LED lights use very little energy and are virtually maintenance free, since they work for 50,000 hours. This can be compared to the 6,000 hours for xenon and 800 hours for halogen,” says Tiuraniemi. Xenon lighting is now the fastest growing product line, and many big machine manufacturers, such as Caterpillar and Komatsu, use Herrmans’ lamps. “Our products are of high quality, and we offer good service and reliable deliveries,” explains Tiuraniemi. Bicycle expert Herrmans operates in two strong segments. The other one consists of bicycle components, such as rimtapes,

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grips, chainguards and reflectors. Herrmans co-operates with practically all big European bicycle manufacturers and delivers products for every type of bicycle from entry level to the high end segment. The company has already achieved a prominent place in its market niche and is now investing in a new sector: bicycle lights. “In this field we enjoy synergy benefits with work lighting: we are competent in optics and have access, for example, to a light laboratory and optics design software,” says Tiuraniemi. Mental and physical growth Herrmans continues to grow and is now looking to invest in new production facilities for work lighting. In the bicycle sector, the company focuses on broadening its product range. Its growth concept includes training in quality matters for the whole personnel. “Among other things, seven of our employees have completed a ‘Black Belt level’ in the Six Sigma quality training,” says Tiuraniemi. c

“We work with top brands in the fields of heavyduty machines and bicycles,” says Reijo Tiuraniemi, President of Herrmans.

Herrmans Oy Ab Tel. +358 6 781 5100 Fax +358 6 723 3110 Business sector: Worklights for heavy duty machinery, bicycle components Turnover 2007: €26.5 million Employees: 148 Export: 90% Major markets: Worldwide Certification: ISO 9001, ISO 14001

Comfortably warm Purmo promotes a good indoor climate.

more active and inspiring approach to marketing communication, a broader product range, a better product guarantee and more active customer contacts than ever before. “Purmo’s new focus is taking root all around Europe. Our goal is to make Purmo the best known and preferred brand in the field of heating all around Europe,” says Jan Högkvist, Managing Director. Customised heating


lthough heating is one of the main factors contributing to indoor comfort, it is subject to many misconceptions. “Few end-users know what is best suited to different types of houses and different construction materials,” says Mia Högkvist, Marketing Manager of Purmo, a trademark of radiator manufacturer Rettig. This has caught the attention of

A radiator offers comfortable heating but can also be used as a decorative element. Following its new brand focus, Purmo raised its product quality guarantee from five to ten years. In the photo, Jan Högkvist, Marko Nylund and Mia Högkvist.

Purmo’s sales representatives. Their goal now is to help installers to answer end users’ questions about heating. “We provide installers with new, comprehensive heating-related material. After all, it is usually the installer – or the specifier – who makes the final decisions on heating,” says Högkvist. The Purmo concept is all about a Mats Sandström

Radiators are no longer mass products with few variations. Purmo offers a wide product range, and most of its products are manufactured at Rettig’s plants in Jakobstad. Purmo design radiators, decorative products, towel warmers and underfloor heating systems are manufactured at Rettig’s other plants around Europe. “Tailor-made special products are increasing in number. One of our new products is a radiator 200 millimeters high that fits excellently below modern big window surfaces,” says Marko Nylund, Rettig’s Plant Manager. The Jakobstad plant is one of Rettig ICC’s 15 factories in Europe. It belongs to a network of some thirty sales offices. “In the Group’s latest plans, the Jakobstad unit no longer functions only as a production unit but also as a logistics centre serving the Nordic and Baltic countries. This is an important service function to us,” says Nylund. Rettig believes in growth in Western Europe, despite the market being mature. “Our concept offers us new opportunities, and the Eastern European market continues to grow,” says Jan Högkvist. c

Rettig Värme Ab Tel. +358 6 786 9111 Fax +358 6 786 9222 Business sector: Water-based heating solutions Turnover 2006: €53 million Employees: 230 Export: 82% Major markets: The Nordic countries, the Baltic countries, Greece, Russia, Japan Parent company: Rettig ICC Turnover 2006: €620 million Employees: 3,300

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Best-Hall’s products are used all around the world, here as a de-icing hall for a Boeing 747.

Even giants need protection Few limits to what Best-Hall can cover.


he history of Best-Hall dates back to 1975, when a young Leif Kempas realised that existing hall structures could be improved. He founded Best-Hall with a few friends and ever since, Best-Hall’s steelframed PVC halls have been sold all around the world. They have been used for various purposes: as storage facilities, as sports halls and on oil platforms – even as a rodeo arena in the USA. “We compete with permanent facilities and have a clear advantage in this respect: we combine high quality with cost-effective price, our products do not require a concrete foundation under normal conditions, delivery times are short, the halls can be moved and their white ceilings let light through nicely,” explains Leif Kempas, Managing Director. Snow and hurricanes Best-Hall has always sworn by high quality. Its halls must withstand extreme conditions. “In the Nordic countries, for example, our halls must be able to cope with 500 kilograms of snow per square metre and in Miami, USA, they must endure hurricane-class winds,” says Leif Fagernäs, Deputy Managing Director.

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A good example of Best-Hall’s quality products is a hall in Tampere, Finland. Its PVC cover was replaced for the first time in 2006 – the hall was erected in 1975. The reason BestHall can offer such competitive quality is that the company carries full responsibility for each project from beginning to end. “Sales, design, production and assembly are all in our hands. No hall, wherever it may be, is erected with­out our own installers on site,” emphasises Leif Fagernäs. Doubling figures Perhaps the best proof of Best-Hall’s quality is that most of its customers are returning ones. To quote something more official, Dun & Brad­ street, a provider of business and credit information, has put Best-Hall among the 33 Finnish companies that have received the highest credit rating of AAA ten years in a row. Leif Kempas is positive about the future: “Our goal is to double our turnover up to 2015. This will happen mostly in Western Europe, but Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan also have strong potential for development.” c

Best-Hall got the regional Innofinland prize 2007 for its development activities. In the photo, Leif Kempas and Leif Fagernäs.

Best-Hall Oy Tel. +358 6 832 5000 Fax +358 6 835 0477 Business sector: Sales, planning, manufacture and erection of PVC-covered halls with steel frame Turnover 2006: €30 million Employees: 125 Export: 55% Major markets: Worldwide Certificates: ISO 9001:2000

World-winning water Mats Sandström

Virpi Ali-Haapala, Director of Administration, and Juha-Jaakko Niemelä, Production Director, are pleased with the good reputation of Finnish water around the world.

Finn Spring is a bottled-water pioneer in Finland.


ccording to a report compiled by UNESCO a few years ago, the world’s best fresh water is to be found in Finland. Tap water is clean and potable throughout the country. This is what Finn Spring relied on when it set up business in the early 1990s. Finland’s leading producer of bottled waters gets its raw material from a large natural spring with abundant water resources. “We have pioneered the field in Finland. Since Finnish water has a good reputation out in the world, there are also good opportunities for export,” says Virpi Ali-Haapala, Director of Administration at Finn Spring. Emphasis on export Since tap water is of high quality in Finland, the country has a limited market for bottled waters. Finn Spring already holds a 70 per cent market share of the domestic water market and is now looking for growth abroad. The company’s objective is to raise the share of exports to 20 per cent of turnover.

Disposable bottles came under the Finnish recycling system in early 2008.

“Although Finnish water is reputable abroad, ‘Finnishness’ alone is not a sufficient selling point. Production must be cost-effective and competitive. We can achieve this, for example, by making our own bottles. The appearance of products is also important,” says Ali-Haapala. The bottled-water market accommodates players ranging from big international brands to small enterprises. Boost to recycling The environmental image of bottled waters improved considerably in

Finland in early 2008, as disposable bottles came under the national recycling system. Customers pay a deposit for bottles, which they get back when they return the bottles. Reclaimed bottles are used as raw material for new bottles. “Finns have traditionally been good about returning deposit bottles. We hope that the new system will enable us to use domestic recycled plastic as raw material,” says AliHaapala. Spring water generates around half of Finn Spring’s turnover. The company’s range also includes other drinks, such as flavoured waters, ciders, soft drinks and energy drinks. c

Finn Spring Oy Tel. +358 6 862 3161 Fax +358 6 862 3345 Business sector: Bottled spring water and other drinks Turnover 2007: €17 million Employees: 80 Export: 5% Major markets: Finland, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Poland

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The world wants more luncheon meats. For Snellman, Russia and Eastern Europe are the most natural markets to turn to for growing exports.

Offering the best from the west Snellman’s premium food opens up new markets.


ussia and Eastern Europe are seeing major changes, including the emergence of a growing, quality-conscious middle class with strong consumption power. This is of importance to Snellman, a meat processing company, and its efforts to launch exports of luncheon meats to Russia. These mainly involve salami, liver pate and meat products. “The good quality of Finnish raw materials is highly valued in Russia. It guarantees that the end products are also of prime quality,” says Martti Vähäkangas, Managing Director. Snellman, a family company, is well established in the Finnish market for luncheon meats. Its market entry in the East will be based on the same elements that have brought it earlier success. That is, good product recipes and a well-known brand: Mr. Snellman, the cheerful cartoon character depicting a butcher, which has won over consumers. “Trends in the East are the same as here: consumers want high-quality meat and products that are easy to use,” says Vähäkangas.

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More pre-cooked meals Snellman has established an export company in St Petersburg to facilitate market entry in Russia. Long-term plans include further investments in export. “We hope to grow through export, and Eastern Europe seems the natural place to go. As the standard of living rises and the middle class grows, consumption also goes up,” explains Vähäkangas. The company’s acquisition of a precooked food factory in Sweden has proved to be a successful internationalisation move. “The market for pre-cooked meals is growing in Sweden, similar to many other European countries. In Finland, Snellman’s annual growth rate in pre-cooked meals is 10 per cent. It has much to do with our brand image: people know Snellman stands for premium products,” says Vähäkangas. The company’s success is also visible in its production facilities. The latest investments were made in fully automated shipping and high-bay storage, totalling 7.5 million euros.

Snellman, led by Martti Vähäkangas, made the right choice years ago when it opted to specialise in premium-quality cold cuts and meat products.

“Our annual investments range from five to ten million euros,” says Vähäkangas. c

Oy Snellman Ab Tel. +358 6 786 6111 Fax +358 6 786 6164 Business sector: Meat and processed meat and food products Turnover 2007: €138 million (est.) Employees: 700 Export: 6% Major markets: Finland, Sweden, Russia, Japan Certification: ISO 9001, ISO 14001

The law firm when it ma Roschier offers the services of qualified professionals in business law.

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Michael Weckström


perating in the international marketplace, Roschier is a leading law firm in Northern Europe, with offices in Helsinki, Vaasa and Stockholm. Roschier has established a uniquely integrated network, RoschierRaidla (www.roschierraidla. com), offering premier cross-border and local expertise in the Nordic–Baltic region. Roschier began operations in Vaasa in 1994. The local practice now has a team of four lawyers plus support personnel. All in all, Roschier employs approximately 160 legal professionals with broad expertise in every segment of business law.

Mats Sandström

Stefan Wikman says that Roschier wants to offer clients what they really need.

Resources of the whole network “Here in Vaasa our core practice areas are corporate advisory, transactions, risk management and contractual counseling. In addition, we have a strong position in real estate law, labour law and dispute resolution. The Vaasa office is a fully integrated part of Roschier, which gives us the opportunity to offer the resources of our entire network to local clients,” says Stefan Wikman, Partner and head of the Vaasa office. In practice, Roschier can, for example, advise clients in all types of transactions, and counsel company management in questions concerning corporate law, as well as in contractual negotiations in Finland and abroad. “It is often wise and advantageous to use business law services, such as preventive risk counselling, instead of seeking help only when a potential problem becomes apparent,” Wikman points out.

In depth An extensive part of Roschier’s clients are foreign companies with operations in Finland. The fact that the firm is based in Finland and Sweden, with partnering firms in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is seen as a competitive advantage, since foreign players increasingly consider Northern Europe as an integrated market area. “Roschier aims to continuously develop sustainable client relationships and to offer high-end legal services and independent advice. We strive to develop, retrieve, pool and utilise the knowledge and experience of all the individuals of the firm and to continuously develop best practices,” says Wikman, adding: “We want to be the law firm when it matters. c

National law The clients of Roschier’s Vaasa office include listed companies, but also midsized technology and growth companies and several public institutions. A significant share of these clients operates internationally. Internationalizing a company requires legal advice in various areas, regardless of whether it is a question of finding representatives or establishing a foreign subsidiary. “Despite internationalization and globalization, the practice of law is still national to a great extent, and it’s always advisable to check local 108  coastline • 2008

legislation and circumstances when entering new markets,” says Stefan Wikman. Roschier has, apart from its own network, an extensive worldwide network of co-operation law firms, and can, whenever necessary, coordinate contacts with local legal expertise in different countries.

Roschier, Attorneys Ltd. Hovioikeudenpuistikko 11 FI-65100 Vaasa Tel. +358 (0)20 506 6010 Fax +358 (0)20 506 6011

Roschier employs a total of approximately 160 lawyers, four of them at the office in Vaasa. From the left Stefan Wikman, Olav Hermanson, Kim Åstrand and Jannica Kjerulf.

Keskuskatu 7 A FI-00100 Helsinki Tel. +358 (0)20 506 6000 Fax +358 (0)20 506 6100 Business sector: Legal services Turnover 2006: €47 million Employees: 280 (Vaasa 7) Major markets: The Nordic and the Baltic countries

VLP boasts both experience and competence. Founded over a century ago, the company is now a modern telecom corporation active in all fields of tele­ communications.

Boosting the information society VLP’s services facilitate work and free time.


n today’s information society, everyday routines are closely linked to telecommunications and electronic services – both in and out of work. High-speed voice, data and internet connections, as well as services, facilitate daily tasks, freeing up time and resources. “We are present in the everyday lives of individuals and companies. Our broadband network and applications boost companies’ competitiveness and give added value, maybe even a touch of luxury, to the daily tasks of our customers,” says Timo Cavén, recently appointed Managing Director of Vaasan Läänin Puhelin (VLP). The company, founded over a century ago as a telephone company, has evolved into a modern telecommunications corporation that is active in all telecom fields and offers voice, data, internet, ICT and security services both locally and wider. From copper to fibre Finland is one of the world’s leading countries in telecommunications, and the broadband network in Ostrobothnia, VLP’s operating region, is among Finland’s best. “Our high-speed and efficient broadband network enables individu-

Mats Sandström

and online video call for a large data transfer capacity. Optical fibre satisfies current and future needs,” says Cavén. Interaction on TV VLP also offers many other services apart from high-speed connections. The company emphasises product development and is actively developing new broadband and cable television services. “We are currently involved in an interesting study on interactive service delivery via TV. More information will probably be available in early 2008,” reveals Cavén. c “Our network and services facilitate the everyday lives of people and boost the competitiveness of companies in today’s information society,” says Timo Cavén.

als and companies to use telecommunications in the best possible manner,” says Cavén. VLP has systematically invested in optical fibre, that is, moved from copper to fibre technology. An optical fibre network offering practically unlimited data transfer capacity was recently completed in the centre of Vaasa, and further investments will be made to expand the fibre network over the entire operating region. An underwater optical cable across the Kvarken provides the company with a direct connection to Sweden and further on to international networks. “For example, real-time gaming

Vaasan Läänin Puhelin (VLP) Tel. +358 6 411 4111 Fax +358 6 317 0146 Business sector: Information technology, Communication and Telecom Turnover 2006: €76.5 million Employees: 600

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Ostrobothnia is already the home of many foreigners. Engineers David Jabez and Swapnadip Ghosh from India work at Sasken, an IT company in Kaustinen. They are joined here by Ari Tastula.

Mats Sandström

Connecting business

The Chamber of Commerce welcomes foreigners to Ostrobothnian business life.


strobothnia has long had the second lowest unemployment rate among all Finnish regions. Overall, Ostrobothnian companies are doing very well – so well, in fact, that labour shortage is beginning to be an acute problem in many sectors. “We want to welcome foreigners to Ostrobothnia to share in the region’s success. We need more employees from other parts of the world,” says Juha Häkkinen, Director of the Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce. Ostrobothnian companies already employ many foreigners, and the region is one of the most international in Finland. For example, of all Finnish towns Vaasa has the second highest percentage of foreign inhabitants. Thousands needed According to a survey that the Chamber of Commerce conducted among its members, no less than 28 per cent of companies plan to recruit people from abroad. The need for labour is biggest in industry and the construction sector, but the trade and service sectors are also waking up. “We’re not talking about cheap labour but about people who come here to take up residence and integrate into our society on the same terms as any 110  coastline • 2008

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Finn,” says Managing Director Bengt Jansson. Ostrobothnia offers many opportunities for interesting work, since the region will need thousands of employees in the near future as the average age of the population continues to rise. The number of Finns that reach retirement will soon be considerably bigger than that of young people entering the labour market. In the opinion of Bengt Jansson and Juha Häkkinen, Ostrobothnia has many positive qualities that attract new inhabitants. “The region is safe and offers good schools. Employees often enjoy great freedom and have good opportunities to influence their work. Overall, Ostrobothnia offers a high quality of life.” The Chamber of Commerce looks after the interests of its member companies. In terms of labour migration, it aims to promote debate and influence attitudes. “The Ostrobothnian society has always been open to external impulses, but some antiquated attitudes still exist. For example, sectors that set employee language requirements way too high will only hurt themselves in the long run,” say Jansson and Häkkinen. c

Juha Häkkinen and Bengt Jansson are involved in lobbying and look after companies’ interests.

Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce Kokkola office Tel. +358 6 832 6400 Fax +358 6 832 6490 Jakobstad office Tel. +358 6 781 6400 Fax +358 6 781 6490 Vaasa office Tel. +358 6 318 6400 Fax +358 6 318 6490 Business sector: Lobbying, information, training Turnover 2007: €1.2 million Employees: 8

Providing the broader view Concordia paves the way for future business opportunities.

The former tobacco factory, Strengbergs, symbolises development in Jakobstad. In earlier days, big industry was the main sector. Now, the factory will be home to many service companies, among them Concordia.

often have a long background in business, although they are no longer actively involved in it,” says Concordia’s CEO Niclas Dahl. Entrepreneurs often need an experienced partner and someone they can bounce their ideas off of at different stages of business. This might be the case, for example, when they have come to a crossroads or are considering a generation change. “Generation change is a topical issue for many of the region’s companies. Most of the problems related to it deal with emotions. A mentor can be of great support at such times,” says Dahl. Business incubator

Mats Sandström


he results may be good if everyone works alone in their nook, but they will probably be even better if someone has an overall picture of future development. The latter is the role of Concordia, a regional business development company owned by five municipalities: Jakobstad, Pedersöre, Nykarleby,

Concordia paves the way for future business in the region. From the left: Marika Tulima, Jonas Harald, Margita Lukkarinen, Niclas Dahl, Sanna Kankaanpää, Malin Dahlskog, Maria Nybäck and Kristina Backlund.

Larsmo and Kronoby. One of the most important methods used by Concordia is introducing entrepreneurs to business mentors. Since the mentor project started in 2004, over 140 businesses in the region have been helped by a mentor provided by Concordia. “Our mentors work for free and

Government funding, channelled through Regional Centre Programmes, is another important tool in regional development. Concordia’s goal, in this respect, is to support innovations and develop networks for women working as entrepreneurs and business managers. Concordia’s new business incubator will provide concrete support for innovation. “A person with a viable business idea may need anything from financial support to help with marketing and contacts,” says Dahl. Concordia strives to identify and support technological innovations, one of the region’s existing strengths, but also business ideas in creative fields and the service sector. “A couple of years in the incubator may be all that is needed. After that, companies should be able to stand on their own legs.” c

Business Development Centre Concordia Ltd Tel. +358 6 724 3434 Business sector: Regional business development Employees: 6 + 6 project workers

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New technology for success Ketek commodifies new technology and develops business sectors and services.

Ketek focuses on implementing the latest technology and contributes to the well-being of companies. It was incorporated in early 2007.


hoosing the right technology for one’s business may be difficult at times. The goal of Technology Centre Ketek is to help companies do just this. Ketek develops business sectors in the Kokkola and Pietarsaari regions, offering close partnership to help companies. In contrast to other regional development centres, Ketek focuses on supporting companies to implement new technology. Its emphasis lies on sectoral development and business services. “We continuously transfer new technology created in research projects to practical use, a current example being laser hardening applications. The goal is to provide companies with new tools that ensure their future competitiveness. This makes it important to keep up with developments in different materials, among other things,” explains Jarl Ljungeld, Development Manager. Problem-solver Ketek is particularly experienced and well-versed in boatbuilding and the chemical industry, as well as in mechanics. Out in the field, Ketek works as a problem-solver, wanting to help 112  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

companies to develop their operations, products and services. “Chemistry alone means a lot to us. It is not simply an industrial field, but is also closely linked to the boat industry, big industry and cosmetology companies. Many companies need competence in chemistry for their product development,” says Toni Andersson, Research Manager. Broad-ranging skills Ketek is able to offer new technologies thanks to its broad co-operation network with universities, which provides information and skills that can be adapted to local needs. The Centre’s goal is to introduce new technologies and their uses based on individual customer needs. Ketek works systematically to create well-being for companies and new jobs for the region according to the principles of sustainable development. According to Ljungeld, there are still companies whose operating methods are based on old systems, but many are highly familiar with new developments. “As a technology centre, we want to offer broad-based services to companies. We actively participate

Toni Andersson and Jarl Ljungeld emphasise Ketek’s versatile knowledge in many different fields.

in regional and competence centre projects, which have enhanced our B-to-B co-operation in Kokkola and Pietarsaari, especially in the boatbuilding industry,” says Andersson. c KETEK Tel. +358 6 825 3255 Fax +358 6 825 3300 Business sector: R&D in business management, industrial chemistry, laser technology, boat technology and mechanics. Development of products and manufacturing methods. Turnover 2007: €2.7 million Employees: 35

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Supporting growth Mats Sandström

Finnvera has lately emphasised export credit guarantees and establishment funding to help Ostrobothnian companies enter new, riskier markets.

State-owned Finnvera offers export credit guarantees and venture capital.


ithout Finnvera, Finland and Ostrobothnia would have far fewer growth companies. A state-owned enterprise, Finnvera supplements the banking sector by offering loans and guarantees to companies that find it difficult to get other lenders to invest in them. “Most of our customers are small or medium-sized companies in a steep growth phase. Big investments always carry big risks,” says John Erickson, Vice President, Western Finland, from Finnvera’s office in Vaasa. Erickson estimates that in approximately one third of all production-related investments financing would be much more difficult to come by without Finnvera’s help. The regional office in Ostrobothnia has 1,817 customers – or 14 per cent of the region’s active companies. While Finnvera finances nearly every type of small company, its typical customers include the boatbuilding industry, subcontractors to large industries, as well as B-to-B service companies.

Mats Sandström

“Many investments would never be made if Finnvera did not take the risk,” says John Erickson.

and in establishing themselves on riskier markets, such as Russia and its neighbouring areas, India, China, Latin America and Africa,” explains Erickson. Supplementing banks

Emphasis on export Export credit guarantees account for a significant share of operations. “We finance all kinds of companies in the field of exports, including large and healthy businesses. Our role is to help companies in exports

Ostrobothnia’s good economic development in recent years has also kept Finnvera busy. The company has actively increased its risk-taking and sought new types of customers, especially among companies opting for internationalisation.

“Our credit losses are bigger than those of banks, since we take bigger risks. Although the State of Finland covers some of Finnvera’s credit and guarantee losses, most of them are covered from our own profits. This enables Finnvera to take higher risks than operators working on market terms and to share risks with other financiers. Our services are priced so that we do not compete with banks, but rather supplement them. Customers are often referred to us by their bank.” c

Finnvera plc Tel. +358 204 60 11 Business sector: Risk financing for small and medium-sized companies and export credit guarantees. Regional offices: 16 Outstanding commitments arising from export credit guarantees and special guarantees (current commitments and offers given) at Q2/2007: €5,212.9 million Outstanding domestic commitments (credit and guarantees): €1,411.8 + €814.9 million (the Vaasa office €175 million) Employees: 419 (the Vaasa office 11) Customers: 28,200 (the Vaasa office 1,817)

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Innovation into energy production Merinova promotes and co-ordinates development in the energy technology sector.


echnology Centre Merinova is an expert organisation which carries out development projects in the energy sector in cooperation with universities, research centres and businesses. Founded in 1989 in Vaasa to promote the region’s industry, Merinova has constantly expanded its operations, evolving from a regional organisation into a national and international player. Merinova is a member of several EU networks. As a partner in EU Framework Programme projects, Merinova participates in the development of co-operation between energy clusters and in activities promoting renewable energy sources. “The forest, the wind, the sun and the fields can all be used for energy production, taking ethical considerations into account, of course. We are currently studying the opportunities to replace imported energy with distributed energy production, that is, with small production units located around the country. The goal to increase the energy self-sufficiency in Ostrobothnia and reduce the region’s dependence on imported energy is an example of local projects,” says Yrjö Halttunen, Managing Director of Merinova. Nationwide responsibility From the beginning of 2007 to 2013, Merinova will be responsible for coordinating the new national Energy Technology Cluster established within the framework of the national Centre of Expertise programme. Participants in Merinova’s nationwide projects include large companies and SMEs in the energy sector, consultants, as well as universities and research institutes. “We are currently involved in the Road Map 2015 project, which aims to draw up a road map for Finland’s electricity distribution network in 2015,” explains Halttunen.

Mats Sandström

Merinova will co-ordinate the development of the Finnish Energy Technology Cluster until 2013.

Technology Centre Merinova

Tracking new innovations Merinova also engages in business and innovation activities. The service concept for innovative, technologyoriented start-ups aims at creating the best possible operating environment, including facilities and expert services, for fledgling companies. “Merinova has an innovation agent 114  coastline • 2008

located at the campus of the University of Vaasa, looking for researchbased innovations with potential for growth and internationalisation,” says Halttunen. c

Tel. +358 6 282 8200 Fax +358 6 282 8299 “Merinova is deeply involved in research on distributed energy production and energy selfsufficiency,” says Yrjö Halttunen.

Business sector: Development of energy technology: research and development projects, business development and consulting, incubator activities and promotion of innovations. Turnover 2006: €3.5 million Employees: 20

Biggest in Scandinavia Logistics is the trump card of the Kokkola Industrial Park.


overing slightly over 300 hectares, the Kokkola Industrial Park is not big on an international scale, but it is Scandinavia’s largest concentration of inorganic chemistry companies. Its foundation was laid after the wars by the Kemira and Outokumpu plants, which attracted an increasing number of companies around them. As a result, Kokkola is now home to a chemical industry cluster, where the by-products of one industrial plant serve as raw material for others. “A good example of this is Woikoski, our latest member, which collects the carbon dioxide generated by

The Kokkola Industrial Park is home to some 20 chemical companies. Having an own port gives the Park a unique competitive advantage.

TETRA Chemicals,” explains Jonne Sandberg, Business Development Manager of the Kokkola Industrial Park. Gateway to the east According to Sandberg, the Park’s success story is based on real synergy benefits and functional logistics, with a reputation that has travelled all the way to Central Europe. “It is not often that a cargo ship can be loaded right next to a plant. Here, the port and park are located on the same site, which eliminates one transport stage and saves both time

and money. We also have a direct rail connection to Russia, and since both countries have the same track gauge, cargo can be transported all the way to China without intermediate unloading,” says Sandberg, listing the Park’s advantages. At best, an industrial company can set up operations in Kokkola in as little as six months, as happened with Woikoski. Land is immediately available and the site has resources for construction. The area also has sufficient power capacity, and its own water supply plant covers the needs of all factories. coastline • 2008  115

Kokkola Industrial Park Boliden Kokkola Oy Fortum Kokkolan Voimalaitos KemFine Oy Kemira GrowHow Oy Maintpartner Oy Nordkalk Oyj Abp OMG Kokkola Chemicals Oy OnePoint Infra Oy Oy M. Rauhanheimo Ab Oy Woikoski Ab Tetra Chemicals Europe Oy Kokkolan Satama

Mats Sandström

Ready for new success stories Kokkola has a positive attitude towards the chemical industry, which has, after all, employed several generations in the region. The industry has given birth to an educational system created around it, as well as generated growth for many of its subcontractors. Investors find that the good level of Finnish education compensates for the country’s high labour costs. “Finland is also a sparsely populated and safe country, which makes it an ideal place for chemical companies. The Park has 70 hectares of unbuilt land reserved for the heavy chemical 116  coastline • 2008

Jonne Sandberg hopes that Kokkola will get more heavy chemical industry, which can use the existing big industry network.

industry. An association was set up in 2006 to secure the Park’s development. It is important to us that the utilisation of research results remains the property of companies.” c

Kokkola Industrial Park Tel. +358 44 780 9093 Fax +358 6 822 5545 Business sector: Industrial park focused on inorganic chemistry Companies: 18 Employees: appr. 2,000 Area: appr. 350 ha

A province of opportunities Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia develops a vital province.

Entrepreneurship is booming Seikkula is happy about the province being profiled as an entrepreneurial province. “Our rate of entrepreneurship is the second highest in the country. Many entrepreneurs have good opportunities to initiate exports. Our goal is to distribute information so that companies dare to take the decisive step. Central Ostrobothnia has strong handicraft traditions. The construction wood and wooden furniture industries are doing well and growing stronger. Industry in Kokkola is of interest to investors. The region is receiving big investments from India, as well as significant sums of American capital. Seikkula believes that the region will also see investments from Russia in the future. Global co-operation works without hiccups and international employees are also welcome. “Central Ostrobothnia is traditionally a multicultural region. Foreigners are treated well, and they constitute an important part of our workforce. The university plays an important part in this respect. Lithium province


lthough small, Central Ostrobothnia has a versatile business life. The Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia supports the region’s business life and manages its development. “Versatility creates stability when the entire province can be mobilised to work for its common well-being,” says Altti Seikkula from the Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia. The city of Kokkola is the region’s economic engine, with Central Ostrobothnians now investing actively in developing technology. Central Ostrobothnia has received a total of 11 million euros from the EU’s development funds.

Mats Sandström

Clean nature, space and security make Central Ostrobothnia a vigorous province.

There is now great interest in launching mining activities in Finland. Central Ostrobothnia is also investing in mining industry growth. The region has several deposits, and lithium has attracted special interest. In fact, the region is called the Lithium province abroad. “Lithium offers opportunities to the industry now that energy efficiency is in the headlines. The batteries of hybrid cars are a case in point.” The region is also well located in logistical terms. “We can be reached by plane and by train. Ore transports have given the Kokkola Port a strong position. c Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia Tel. +358 6 860 5700 Fax +358 6 868 0308

“Industry in Kokkola is of interest to investors. The mining industry will grow,” says Seikkula.

Business sector: Development and administration of the province. In 2008, the Council will work, for example, through the Northern Finland ERDF programme and the ESF programme. Turnover 2007: over €1 million Employees: 18

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Ostrobothnia succeeds on many fronts Business, nature and well-being are in balance in Ostrobothnia.


ccording to a study by the Finnish Ministry of the Interior, Ostrobothnia was Finland’s most successful region in 2006–2007 in terms of company revenues, employment growth and net migration. “The Ministry’s study shows that Ostrobothnia is thriving as measured by economic indicators,” says Olav Jern, Executive Director of the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia. One of the reasons for Ostrobothnia’s good financial performance may lie in its versatile business structure. “The region has several strong sectors, such as energy technology and wood processing. In addition, our primary production is robust and specialised. Examples include glasshouse Regional Council of Ostrobothnia Tel. +358 6 320 6500 Fax +358 6 320 6550 Business sector: Regional council for 17 Ostrobothnian municipalities and towns. Regional development and spatial planning. Distribution of regional funding for the development of the region’s business. International matters and contacts. Turnover 2006: €4.5 million Employees: 30

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cultivation and fur farming. Businesses are both big and small, which is an obvious strength.” Jern emphasises the uniqueness of many Ostrobothnian companies. “The companies’ competence is often inborn. It has developed here instead of being brought from elsewhere. This is a significant competitive advantage.” Well-being starts with individuals In Jern’s opinion, the region’s wellbeing cannot be examined using hard financial indicators alone. “Ostrobothnia also does well on soft indicators. Life expectancy is the second highest in all of Finland and morbidity is low. In other words, people feel good in Ostrobothnia,” says Jern. Balancing development in society The Regional Council of Ostrobothnia contributes to promoting the region’s competitiveness. Other core tasks include land use planning and implementation of the EU’s structural policies in the region.

The uniqueness of Kvarken gained valuable recognition when the region was inscribed on the World Natural Heritage List of UNESCO.

Olav Jern considers the inborn competence of Ostrobothnian companies to be an important competitive advantage.

“Human, soft activities also need attention. We ensure the conditions and resources that promote equality in societal development.” Jern is proud about the Kvarken Archipelago being included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The Regional Council lobbied hard for the project. “The ‘Nobel’ prize for nature is quite an achievement. Kvarken is the only region in Finland that has been admitted on the World Natural Heritage List of UNESCO. The uniqueness of our land uplifting archipelago has now been acknowledged,” says Jern. c Mats Sandström

The Ostrobothnian business environment is characterised by high-tech companies and agriculture working side by side.

Boosting Ostrobothnian economy

Mats Sandström

TE Centre provides companies with financial support and information.


ast year, the TE Centre for Ostro­ bothnia supported Ostrobothnian companies with a total of 126 million euros. The Centre supports businesses from the time they are established. Financial, and especially informational, support is immensely valuable to start-ups in particular. “We also help companies to find competent employees, which is one of our biggest challenges at the moment. Furthermore, the TE Centre plays an important part when companies apply for energy subsidies,” says Kaj Suomela, Director of the TE Centre for Ostrobothnia. Energy technology is the key

Ostrobothnia is doing well in terms of employment. The region’s employment rate has risen to 74 per cent, compared to 70 per cent nationwide. “The order books of many industrial companies have been full for quite some time. This is expected to have a positive impact on employment for at least the next three years.” The energy and chemical industries have increased their weight significantly. The region’s traditional boat building industry is also seeing a new upward trend, and recent invest-

Mats Sandström

Welcoming investors

“Ostrobothnian energy and environmental technology has aroused interest abroad,” says a satisfied Kaj Suomela, Director of the TE Centre.

ments have improved the prospects for the forest industry. A big energy cluster has developed around Vaasa, which makes Suomela chuckle with delight. “This is one of the main reasons for our region being a top performer in Finland measured by economic indicators. International operations and competence in new and changing technology are our trump cards.” The Kokkola region is also full of opportunities. It still has capacity for many more businesses in its cluster built around the chemical and boat building industries. The necessary permits are ready and waiting for new entrepreneurs.

The TE Centre welcomes foreign companies to join the internationally significant high-tech clusters in Ostrobothnia, where first-rate competence is a trademark and where investment pays off. Suomela also hopes that local companies will look more boldly to exports for growth. According to him, foreign investors are showing more and more interest in Ostrobothnian companies. Capital is flowing in especially from China and India, which proves that growth in the East also benefits Europe. “We were afraid that foreign investors would move production to their home countries, but it turned out that they wanted to develop and increase operations here,” says Kaj Suomela. c T&E Centre for Ostrobothnia Tel. +358 10 602 8650 Fax +358 10 602 8970 Business sector: Governmental employment and economic development centre for Ostrobothnia and central Ostrobothnia. Support for growth and enterprise, balancing of regional structure and preservation of a vital countryside. Turnover 2007: €200 million Employees: 130

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Tokyo waterfront. Japan is an interesting country for Ostrobothnian companies. Viexpo’s cultural and linguistic assistance is of great help there.

Bridge over unknown waters Viexpo offers gateways into and out of Ostrobothnia.


strobothnia is characterised by its large number of small and medium-sized dynamic export companies. To find the right channels into new markets, where linguistic and cultural differences may pose an additional challenge, companies sometimes need help. This is where Viexpo steps in. “We offer just about everything from internationalisation packages that are customised for individual companies to Fact Finding trips to new export markets that are arranged Viexpo Main office in Jakobstad Tel. +358 6 781 6440 Fax +358 6 781 6450 Kokkola office Tel. +358 6 832 6440 Fax +358 6 832 6450 Vaasa office Tel. +358 6 319 9250 Fax +358 6 319 9260 Närpes office Tel. +358 50 342 1091 Fax +358 6 224 1288

Market experts Viexpo’s experts can offer help in markets that are of interest to Ostrobothnians but lie outside the familiar language and cultural regions. Marko Mikkola is well acquainted with Asia and fluent in both Chinese and Japanese. Yvonne Strömberg is an expert in Russia, while Nina Waxlax, the latest addition to the Viexpo team, specialises in Spain and Latin America. “There is great demand in Asia for products such as functional foods, well-being services, design and handicraft. These are all areas of potential interest to Ostrobothnians. Latin America, on the other hand, is a growth area for the paper industry, as well as for other forest and paperrelated fields, which may also attract smaller businesses,” says Jussila.

Working both ways

Business sector: Assistance in international trade for small and medium-sized companies Employees: 10

Viexpo also offers service to foreign companies looking for contacts in Ostrobothnia. This may involve anything from translation services to

120  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

for groups of companies,” explains Markus Jussila, Managing Director.

“Ostrobothnians are used to handling everything on their own. When it comes to export, however, many benefit from our support services,” says Markus Jussila.

direct contacts with local companies. To further expand its offering, Viexpo has intensified co-operation with Finpro, an export-promoting organisation that runs over 50 Finnish export centres in more than 40 countries. “Working with Finpro, we can offer our customers assistance in larger export operations. We are also attentive to customers’ wishes and can react quickly if we notice that a particular market is of interest to our customers,” says Jussila. c

Network creator

VASEK creates useful business co-operation networks in the Vaasa region. Mats Sandström


ASEK, the Vaasa Region Development Company, is a gateway to the approximately 7,000 companies operating in the region. “We offer companies whatever information they need,” says Pekka Haapanen, Managing Director of VASEK. VASEK provides business consultation, carries out regional development projects related to different industries and markets the Vaasa region. Its consultation services are free of charge, making VASEK an important aid to small and mediumsized companies in the fields of business development, contact building and regional networking. VASEK also helps foreign companies to set up operations in the region. VASEK’s services are based on the one-stop shop principle: companies get all the information and advice they need from a single location. Functional business networks benefit the whole region.

Anne Pennström, Tommi Tuominen and Pekka Haapanen want to offer the most useful contacts to companies that come to the Vaasa region. Advice is given to both new and existing companies.

Competitive advantage from good competence Development in the Vaasa region is based on good competence in an increasingly global world. “Well functioning subcontractor networks and product development are vital ingredients if the region wants to remain active. We do not compete on price but on competence,” explains Pekka Haapanen. Competence in the Vaasa region is not restricted to the leading fields of energy and metals. The versatile business structure also encompasses wooden houses, logistics, boatbuilding and the media business, among other things. In addition, VASEK creates networks between local universities, municipal activities and companies. The common goal is to create an overall more competitive region.

Functional logistics In Pekka Haapanen’s view, future challenges in the region include functional logistics. Routes between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia should be further improved. The Vaasa region can already offer rail, sea and air transports for the industry. The region’s competitiveness could be enhanced, for example, by further developing rail connections and the airport. c

Vaasa Region Development Company Tel. +358 6 317 7600 Fax +358 6 317 7611 Business sector: Promotion of regional business, helping SMEs to grow, marketing of the region. Employees: 12

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One Nordea team Mats Sandström

Nordea’s corporate customer team. Back row from the left: Jan-Erik Ravals, Niklas Haglund, Veli-Matti Ylisalmi and Tommy Svartsjö. Front row from the left: Tom Härmälä, Stefan Granberg, Riitta LammiRajamäki, Ralf Skåtar and Raimo Olli.

A bank that is both local and international.


n extensive branch network along the Ostrobothnian coast ensures Nordea a strong physical presence in the region. Nordea is a big financial services group that operates both in Finland and abroad, which benefits corporate customers considering internationalisation. “We have first-hand information about many markets and can help export companies. When entering new markets, it is safe to co-operate with a familiar bank,” says Veli-Matti Ylisalmi, Head of Corporate Service Unit in Coastal Ostrobothnia. Nordea, Finland’s biggest bank for corporate customers, has made big investments in the growing East European markets in recent years. The bank operates in Finland and the other Nordic countries, the Baltic countries, Poland and Russia. Broad network of experts Nordea offers expert services to its corporate customers in many fields. The bank helps companies, for example, with loans, investments 122  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

and acquisitions. Nordea’s experts co-operate throughout the organisation to ensure that customers get the know-how they need. “We aim at long-term customer relationships. We understand customer needs and act in the best interest of each individual client,” explains Ylisalmi. Currency hedging Nordea offers a variety of services to export companies. Currency hedging has been one of the most popular products in recent times. “It protects customers from exchange rate losses by setting a limit on exchange rates. If rates take a favourable turn, the customer collects the benefits,” says Ylisalmi. Hedging agreements can be made with the company’s familiar bank contact person. Currency hedging Nordea Bank Finland Plc Coastal Ostrobothnia Tel. +358 6 325 5111

An extensive branch network along the Ostrobothnian coast ensures Nordea a strong physical presence in the region.

is recommended for all currency purchases and sales with an exercise period over one month into the future. It is like an insurance that can be taken out at the offer stage. c

Gateway to business

Products from the Kokkola region have sold well in global markets throughout history.

KOSEK develops operating conditions in five municipalities.


okkola is as an old tar town that began to prosper in the late 18th century, boosted by tar exports and boatbuilding. In fact, Kokkola-made tar was Finland’s first major product on global markets. Antti Porko, Managing Director of KOSEK (Kokkolanseudun Kehitys Ltd), believes that history goes a long way to explain the international competence found in the municipalities of Kokkola, Kälviä, Lohtaja, Himanka and Kannus.

Mats Sandström

“Well-being services and the mining industry offer future growth,” says Antti Porko.

Two companies a week

Products suitable for global markets KOSEK’s objective is to promote companies in its home municipalities and highlight the region’s strengths and competence. According to Porko, companies benefit from tradition, as well as good language skills, when KOSEK Tel. +358 6 824 3400 Fax +358 6 822 5545 Business sector: Business advice and regional development, assisting companies in the municipalities of Kokkola, Kälviä, Lohtaja, Himanka and Kannus Turnover 2007: €1.9 million Employees: 13

together to determine the needs of each individual company. “We always take this approach whether looking for subcontractors or relocating production. We are in daily contact with 30 organisations and co-operate with nearly 3,000 companies.”

doing business around the world. In addition, the region makes products that are well-suited to global markets, such as boats and versatile inorganic chemistry products. Market presence is essential to companies. “One of KOSEK’s main tasks is to find suitable premises for both Finnish and foreign enterprises. Kokkola has plans to construct business towers in the port and near the campus. Companies and investors have an upto-date register of business premises at their disposal,” says Porko. KOSEK offers foreign investors the best and easiest way to establish a foothold in the region. A team is put

The entrepreneurial spirit around Kokkola is strong and well rooted in tradition. The rate at which businesses are set up has doubled to two new companies a week. “Many sectors are doing well. After the first five years, over 80 per cent of the companies are still up and running. I hope this encourages many highly educated people to become entrepreneurs.” Porko would like to see business life boosted especially through energy industry competence and international trade skills. Continuous education is a key to competence and international success. “Life-long education is also vital to managers. Central Ostrobothnia offers international education in the form of English-language degrees, and co-operation with companies has been developed successfully.” c coastline • 2008  123

Expert in acquisitions

Venture capital investor Wedeco partners with Ostrobothnian businesses.


n spring 2006 Jens Österberg, Managing Director of metal company Petsmo Products, heard that Manor, a company operating in the same field, was available for purchase. Since Österberg was not familiar with acquisitions, he turned to Wedeco, a regional venture capital investor. “Having an acquisition expert as a partner makes you feel safe. Wedeco’s involvement also ensured the financing needed,” says Österberg. A year later the Group acquired a metal company called Beam-Net. According to Österberg, the arrangements have led to clear synergy benefits, which, in turn, enable better service to customers. Prime example According to Wedeco’s Managing Director Keijo Kangasluoma, Petsmo Products is a prime example of Wedeco’s operations. “The owners of both Manor and Beam-Net were about to retire. Many of the acquisitions that we have recently been involved in have had to do with a generation change. We also want to create bigger entities in the region, for example, by bringing together several companies operating in the same field.” 124  coastline • 2008

Wedeco also finances growth companies that are looking for partners in order to carry out large investments or to initiate exports. “We differ from other financiers in that we always become one of the owners and Board members in the companies we invest in. The exit often takes place after five years, but we can stay on longer, if needed.”

Jens Österberg (on the left) has been assisted by Wedeco’s Keijo Kangasluoma in acquisitions.

Dozens of corporate arrangements Since Wedeco’s establishment in 1987, the fund has acted as owner in over 70 Ostrobothnian enterprises. It now has holdings in 25 companies. Most of its new projects involve acquisitions. “Selling a company is often a oncein-a-lifetime event for an entrepreneur, and the required know-how may not always be available. Company sales are brisk at the moment, since

Oy Wedeco Management Ab Profita Group

Tel. +358 6 316 5800 Fax +358 6 316 5801 Business sector: Venture capital

“We always become one of the owners and Board members in the companies we invest in,” explains Keijo Kangasluoma.

many entrepreneurs are retiring,” explains Kangasluoma. Wedeco’s owners include banks, insurance companies, municipalities and big companies from the region. Wedeco has been part of the nationwide Profita Group since 2005. This has provided Wedeco with the resources needed to participate in increasingly big acquisitions, amounting to tens of millions of euros. c

Non-stop development The Ostrobothnian ports meet the needs of a vibrant region.

Mats Sandström


or a region such as Ostrobothnia, with active exports and healthy industry, ports are a vital link to the world. The Ostrobothnian coast is also an excellent east-west transit point. The Port of Kokkola, the biggest and fastest growing in the region, benefits from its status as a bridge between the east and west. Local industry accounts for one-third of the traffic, sawmills and industry in Central Finland for another one-third and Russian trade for the remaining share. “Local industry is developing rapidly, and growth in Russia is exceptionally steep. This obviously affects us as well,” says Port Director Torbjörn Witting. In his vision, the three ports in Kokkola will gradually grow together to form a single large port. The deep port, which has a fairway depth of

Port Directors Torbjörn Witting, Lars Holmqvist and Kristian Hällis serve an active industry and export region.

13 metres and specialises in dry bulk handling, offers especially great potential for development in Witting’s opinion. “The current area of 120 hectares could be doubled in the future,” he says. Business is also booming in the Port of Jakobstad. It is currently expanding its quay from 200 to 500 metres and waiting to deepen its fairway to 10.5 metres. The fairways are built and maintained by the Finnish Maritime Administration. “More quay capacity and an 8-hectare expansion to our berth space will enable us to increase our volume to two million tonnes within a few years,” explains Port Director Kristian Hällis. Similar to Jakobstad, the Port of Kaskinen specialises in services to the paper and forest industry. Plans for

the near future include dredging the fairway from 9 to 10 metres. “This means bigger vessels, which, in turn, offers better competitiveness to our forest industry customers. We also hope to increase bulk volumes,” says Harbour Master Timo Onnela. The Port of Vaasa is the only one to offer passenger traffic in the region. The Vaasa-Umeå route is served by a ro-pax ferry, and is seeing growth especially in cargo traffic. The Port also caters to local industry and power plants by handling bulk goods, oil and coal. “Annual summertime visits of big cruise ships have become an established part of operations in recent years,” says Port Director Lars Holmqvist. c

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Port of Kaskinen

Port of Vaasa

Port of Jakobstad

Port of Kokkola

Port of Kaskinen

Port of Vaasa

Port of Jakobstad

Port of Kokkola

Port Authority: Kalasatamantie 30 FI-64260 Kaskinen, Finland

Port Authority: Laivanvarustajankatu 3 FI-65170 Vaasa, Finland

Port Authority: Laukkovägen 1 FI-68600 Jakobstad, Finland

Port Authority: Satamakatu 53 FI-67900 Kokkola, Finland

Harbour Master: Timo Onnela Tel. +358 40 726 5740 Fax +358 6 220 7300 Main areas: Specialised in handling pulp, sawn timber, dry and liquid bulk, mixed goods Channel depths: 9 m Total berth space: 1,000 m Volume 2006: 2 million tonnes Open: Throughout the year

Port Director: Lars Holmqvist Tel. +358 6 325 4500 Fax +358 6 325 4514 Main areas: Passengers, oil, bulk Channel depths: 9 m Total berth space: 1,615 m Volume 2006: 1.4 million tonnes Open: Throughout the year

Port Operators: Oy Silva Shipping Ab Tel. +358 6 280 2200 Fax +358 6 222 8064

Port Operators: Backman-Trummer Managing Director Hannu Uusi-Pohjola Tel. +358 6 323 9111 Fax +358 6 323 9150

Baltic Tank and Baltic Bulk Tel. +358 2 822 1727 Fax +358 2 822 6296

Blomberg Stevedoring Tel. +358 6 323 9211 Fax +358 6 323 9224

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Port Director: Kristian Hällis Tel. +358 6 723 1566 Office: Tel. +358 6 723 6128 Fax +358 6 723 0034 Main areas: Specialised in handling pulp, sawn timber, paper and mixed goods Channel depths: 9 m Total berth space: 1,080 m Volume 2006: 1.7 million tonnes Open: Throughout the year Port Operator: Oy Botnia Shipping Ab Managing Director Bjarne Sjöholm P.O. Box 50 FI-68601 Jakobstad, Finland Tel. +358 6 781 3600 Fax +358 6 724 3240

Port Director: Torbjörn Witting Tel. +358 6 824 2400 Fax +358 6 824 2444 Main areas: Deep port: Dry bulk and liquid bulk General port: All weather terminal, general cargo and container handling Channel depths: 13 m safe water Total berth space: 1,971 m Volume 2006: 5.3 million tonnes Open: Throughout the year Port Operator: Oy M Rauanheimo Ab Director Joakim Laxåback P.O. Box 254 FI-67101 Kokkola, Finland Tel. +358 6 826 5300 Fax +358 6 826 5320

Reborn campus

The Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences has a strong regional influence. “Fashion designer Jukka Rintala holds the post of artistic director and also teaches clothing technology. He also participates in development projects that help us to keep up to date about educational needs. The Ministry of Education has nominated us twice as Centre of Excellence in Regional Impact. After all, 80 per cent of our students find work in the region we operate in,” says Hannele Teir, Director of the Department of Technology and Business. The University of Applied Sciences plans to take part in the World Expo 2010 fair in Shanghai. “We haven’t made any final decisions as to our programme, but much of it will be related to art. A fashion show and an art exhibition are on the agenda, and musical skills will be presented by our chamber orchestra, complemented by opera singers.” International institution


he 10-million-euro renovation of the Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences was completed in 2006. As a result, the campus boasts a new, modern look, and the departments of business and technology now operate under the same roof. Some Finnish universities of applied sciences have opted to distribute their units, but Kokkola aims to gradually bring all of its departments together. The Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences has 3,300 students. Jukka Rintala – artistic director Business, as well as social affairs and health care, are popular degree programmes, but technology is still wait-

The Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences offers six fields of education and 27 degree programmes, seven of which are taught in English.

ing for a new boom. The University also emphasises art disciplines, offering Bachelor’s degrees, for example, in music pedagogy and fashion and clothing. Mats Sandström

The Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences can well be called one of Finland’s most international educational institutions. It offers six English-language degree programmes. ”We get over 1,000 applications from abroad every year, and student exchange programmes bring nearly 200 international students to Kokkola. Most of our international degree students come from Asia and Africa, while exchange students are mainly from other European countries. We also have foreign teachers, which certainly makes international students feel more at home here,” says Hannele Teir. c

Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences Tel. +358 6 825 0000 Fax +358 6 825 2000

Hannele Teir is pleased about the international atmosphere of the Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences and its nomination as Centre of Excellence in Regional Impact.

Students: 3,300 Fields of education: Technology, communication and transport; social sciences, business and administration; tourism, catering and domestic services; social services, health and sports; humanities and education; culture Degree programmes: 7 taught in English, 20 in Finnish Employment in the region of operations: (Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia and Northern Ostrobothnia): 84% of graduates (from 1 January to 30 June 2007)

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Three-dimensional body scanning Continuous product development is one of the main strategies of companies.

Mats Sandström

“Research projects depend on external funding. Our international contacts assist companies in this respect,” says Jansson.

measurements, clothes fit customers better and unsuitable sizes can be eliminated from warehouses. “Since the device measures the body with millimetre precision, the project has been of much benefit to students of textile, clothing and fashion. We have carried out the measurements in co-operation with, for example, Rukka/L-Fashion Group Oy, a manufacturer of sports apparel. The device is also used to model interior decoration and upholstery elements for boats.” Research into the possibilities of nursing entrepreneurship


ontinuous product development is one of the main strategies of companies. Research projects are important to both the private and public sector, and are the basis for the operations of CENTRIA, a unit of the Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences (COU). CENTRIA also helps companies to find external funding. COU’s internationally comprehensive cooperation network benefits companies working with CENTRIA. Body measurements with millimetre precision CENTRIA’s research projects cover all of the school’s fields of education. Students participate in projects to 128  coastline • 2008

The requirements that business sets for continuous product develop­ ment have boosted CENTRIA’s research and development projects, for example, in 3D measure­ment.

improve their employment opportunities. “This raises the utilisation rate of the school’s facilities, especially that of laboratories. The 100 or so projects that we carry out annually involve 300 students. We also offer training services to business life at our facilities,” explains Lasse Jansson, R&D Director. Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences and CENTRIA have at their disposal Finland’s only 3D measurement device that is currently used for body scanning to collect data about human measurements and body dimensions. The device scans the human body from head to toe in eight seconds, using a fine-tuned laser and cameras. Thanks to reliable

For slightly over a year, CENTRIA has studied structural changes in the fields of social services and health care. Jansson believes that the public sector cannot cope with the ageing of the population without entrepreneurs in the nursing sector. “Now is the time to develop services, and home services are in a key position. Our goal must be to change attitudes, which is what we have worked towards for the last five years in healthcare education.” The service voucher development project that is currently being carried out in the Kokkola sub-regions aims to improve the opportunities for service supply. c

CENTRIA Research and Development Tel. +358 6 825 2072 Fax +358 6 825 2074 Business sector: Research and development Turnover: €6 million Employees: 80

Collaboration is crucial

The University of Vaasa believes in collaboration as a way to develop research.

The University of Vaasa believes in international activities.


he University of Vaasa is becoming more international and aims to intensify its research activities in the process. Versatile co-operation with external partners supports both objectives. Internationalisation is developed both in research activities and on campus. “International students have become a more familiar sight on campus, and the atmosphere is increasingly multicultural,” says Matti Jakobsson, Rector of the University. This autumn, the student population increased by 600 new Finnish students and approximately 100 international students attending the University’s international Master’s degree programmes. Firms into account Research activities are becoming more and more international. An increasing number of research articles is published in international journals, and research groups have contacts in many different countries. In addition to international contacts, the University values co-operation with Ostrobothnian companies, for example,

Mats Sandström

research of good governance,” says Matti Jakobsson. Strong input in the energy sector

According to Matti Jakobsson, the University’s international approach is seen in all its activities.

by entering into research agreements with firms. The University’s aim is to integrate international students into the region by introducing them to local firms already during their studies. International goals and co-operation with firms make research increasingly systematic. “Our technology research focuses on the energy sector, taking into account the region’s business structure. In the field of humanities, our most extensive research programmes focus on multilingualism and language immersion. Research in the field of business studies is international and significant in a wider perspective. Public administration concentrates on comparative

The University of Vaasa works in close co-operation with VAMK, University of Applied Sciences. This is logical since both institutions are located on the same campus. “We share a technology laboratory, Technobothnia, and are currently planning to merge our libraries. The Vaasa Energy Institute was founded at the beginning of the year to bring together energy experts from all the institutions of higher education in Vaasa. Our aim is to become an important research organisation in the energy sector both in Finland and abroad,” says Jakobsson. c University of Vaasa Tel. +358 6 324 8111 Fax +358 6 324 8208 Business sector: Innovative research and education Students: 5,100 Employees: 460 Budget: €30 million

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Towards business

VAMK’s workshops enable students to create contacts with businesses, especially in the field of information technology.

VAMK rewards entrepreneurial spirit.


aasan ammattikorkeakoulu, University of Applied Sciences (VAMK) believes in familiarising students with entrepreneurship and strives to do so in various ways. Last autumn, the institute employed a senior teacher in entrepreneurial studies to both teach the subject and promote the theme of entrepreneurship in all of its degree programmes. According to VAMK’s President, Jouko Paaso, the institute also supports entrepreneurial competence through its Business Factory incubator, Business Clinic and IT workshop, as well as its Open IT lab, which develops open source applications. Strong in IT “The Business Factory gives students the opportunity to join an incubator that functions as a co-operative society. It is easy to become a member of the co-operative, and the activities give a good understanding of entrepreneurial work,” explains Paaso. Information technology is one of the University’s strengths. The Business Clinic co-operates with businesses, helping small, me-

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Mats Sandström

Jouko Paaso is satisfied with the growing interaction between VAMK and companies. It gives students a good picture of the business world during their study time.

dium and micro-sized companies in simple development tasks. “Among other things, students can carry out market surveys or design websites for companies. Operations are reciprocal, and part of the Clinic’s activities are financed by fees paid by companies. The Open IT lab develops open source applications, which will play an important part in the future, especially in public administration. Our IT workshop designs applications for business needs and does software testing,” says Paaso.

Teachers on the same corridor Jouko Paaso believes that VAMK’s cooperation with companies, but also with other universities, will increase in the future. “Co-operation with the University of Vaasa is a good way to strengthen the university network. This means working together in both teaching and research. Plans are to place both VAMK’s and the University of Vaasa’s teachers of technology on the same corridor in the future. This type of development is also appreciated by companies,” says Paaso. c

Vaasan ammattikorkeakoulu, University of Applied Sciences (VAMK) Vaasan ammattikorkeakoulu, University of Applied Sciences (VAMK) offers education and research services in technology and information processing, business economics and tourism, and health care and social services. Tel. +358 20 766 3300 Fax +358 6 326 3002 Business sector: Education and research Students: 3,600 Employees: 240

Studying in English Hanken is one of Finland’s most international universities.


anken, the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, has long enjoyed an international profile. An indication of this is, for example, its large share of international students. International exchange is active also among researchers. “Nearly 50 per cent of our doctoral students in Vaasa come from outside Finland. It is truly exceptional from a national point of view,” says ViceRector Sören Kock. Most of the teaching at the Bachelor’s level is arranged in Swedish at the units in Vaasa and Helsinki. In contrast, some 50 per cent of the Master’s level education is given in English, and of the ten Master’s degree programmes eight are instructed in English. At Hanken’s campus in Vaasa four Master’s degree programmes are offered, two in Swedish and two in English. Half of the students in the programmes are international. “We have a good reputation abroad. Many students are interested in marketing, which is one of our areas of strength,” says Nina Olin, Head of Marketing and Communications, explaining Hanken’s popularity among international students. In addition to service and relationship marketing, Hanken’s areas of strength are finance and statistics,

intellectual property law, and management and organisation. Close contacts with businesses One-third of Hanken’s students participate in international student exchange. The goal is for all students to have spent a period abroad. “Businesses have clearly indicated that they value international experience highly,” says Eva Hellman, Industry and Business Co-ordinator. Hanken nurtures close contacts with businesses, for example, in the form of joint research projects. Moreover, the Hanken Board includes two external industry representatives, while the industry council in Vaasa gives impulses to university operations. “We also have an extensive network of alumni, that is former students, who we keep in contact with. Most of the companies in the region have a Hanken alumnus working for them,” says Hellman.

Hanken has a big share of international students both at Master’s and Doctoral levels.

Sören Kock, Nina Olin and Eva Hellman are pleased with Hanken’s good reputation.

cation is based on research, mainly Hanken’s own research. The university also conducts basic research. Hanken is one of Finland’s few universities to have received EQUIS accreditation, which is a guarantee of the high quality in education and research. c

Hanken – Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

Long traditions

Tel. +358 6 3533 700 Fax +358 6 3533 703

Hanken is one of the oldest Nordic business schools: the university will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2009. The operations in Vaasa were set up in 1980. The university’s edu-

Business sector: Education and research Students: 2,200 (Vaasa 500) Doctoral students: 175 (Vaasa 30) Employees: 210 (Vaasa 40) Certification systems: EQUIS, FINHEEC

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Joined forces

Novia offers a broad range of study programmes all along the coastal zone. Mats Sandström


hen the Svenska Yrkeshögskolan - University of Applied Sciences in Ostrobothnia and the Sydväst University of Applied Sciences in southern Finland decided to merge, it meant the integration of long educational traditions and the creation of new ones. The name Novia originates from the Latin words “nova” (new) and “via” (way). “The name implies that students choose a path when they begin their studies here. It also signifies a new path for the institutions,” says Örjan Andersson, President of Novia. With 3,500 students, Novia is the biggest Swedish-speaking University of Applied Sciences in Finland. The idea of a merger concurs with the Finnish Government’s objective to forge strong, internationally competitive universities. “The biggest advantage is that we have access to the competence of the different units throughout the network. We can also more effectively focus these resources on our core activities: education and applied research,” says Andersson. Large area Vaasa is the central location for the new institution, but educational units are located all along the coastal zone,

132  coastline • 2008

“The merger makes us stronger and more competitive,” concludes Örjan Andersson.

from Jakobstad in the north to Helsinki in the south. Novia offers a broad range of study programmes in eight fields including engineering maritime studies, health services, culture, business, environment, agriculture and forestry. Two of the university’s 34 programmes have English as the language of instruction: the nursing programme in Vaasa and the Integrated Coastal Zone Management programme in Ekenäs. Technology-based management

With its 3,500 students, Novia is the largest Swedish-language university of applied sciences in Finland.

In addition, some programmes conducted in Swedish also lead to a Master’s degree, such as the Master of Engineering programme, in which participants study technology-based management. This kind of graduate

programme is a prime example of Novia’s close co-operation with business life. ”The participants are in working life, so the main method of study is distance learning. Some periods, however, include on-site courses. Coursework is integrated with their workplace through development projects. Students come from various companies and form networks during their studies, the idea being that they can also learn from each other,” says Andersson. Most of the participants represent middle or top management. In order to qualify for the programme, one must have been employed for three years and have an engineering degree. The programme is very popular and there is simply not enough room for all applicants. c

Novia – University of Applied Science Tel. +358 6 328 5000 Fax +358 6 325 5110 Business sector: Education, research and development services Students: 3,500 (Vaasa 1,800) Employees: 380 (Vaasa 180) Certificates: ISO9001:2000 (Novia Ostrobothnia) ISO14001 (Novia Southern Finland)

Multicultural school

The English-language Practical Nurse programme has students from all around the world. The programme aims to facilitate labour migration in the fields of social services and health.

The Swedish Vocational Institute invests in international contacts.


t is not all that common for second-level education, mainly geared at teenagers, to emphasise internationalisation. Nevertheless, the Swedish Vocational Institute has determinedly emphasised international contacts. “Around 15 per cent of our students do their practical training abroad. Today’s world values broad-based skills that also encompass other cultures,” says Christina Wilson-Streng, Rector of the Institute. In the future, the Institute also wants to encourage teachers to go abroad to educate themselves. Since 2003, the Swedish Vocational Institute has had an international co-ordinator, who handles contacts to other countries. English-language programme As part of its international strategy, the Institute has launched an Englishlanguage programme for practical nurses. The first students began studies in the Practical Nurse programme in 2005. “Our objective was to answer the needs of Finland’s population structure. There has long been talk about the need for labour migration

Mats Sandström

“The metals and machine programmes will also become more international in order to answer the future needs of employers,” says Christina WilsonStreng.

to enable us to take care of a growing group of elderly people in the future,” says Wilson-Streng. The English-language programme has generated a great deal of interest. The students are from Africa and the Philippines, among other places. The goal is to also attract foreigners who live in Finland but do not speak either of the two official languages. “It has been interesting to witness the ambition and motivation of our students,” says Wilson-Streng. Transfer of innovation The Swedish Vocational Institute is also involved in a project in which

European vocational institutes share their best ideas across country borders. For example, Wilson-Streng adopted an idea from Holland in which entrepreneurial activities are incorporated into teaching by having students establish companies during their studies and recruit their fellow students as employees. What, then, is the strength of Finnish vocational institutions? “Other countries have been very interested in our way of determining vocational competence. In our ‘vocational skills tests’, students demonstrate their theoretical and practical competence in a real work situation.” c Swedish Vocational Institute Tel. +358 6 324 2811 Fax +358 6 324 2810 Business sector: Vocational education in five different areas: technology and communications; social services, health and sports; natural resources and the environment, tourism, catering and institutional management; and culture Students: 1,500 Employees: 230 International projects: 53 Network partners: 60–70 Teacher mobility: 20% Number of international visits in past academic years: 250

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Optima builds society on two fronts: exams for the young and development for business needs.

Mats Sandström

Education for new demands Optima provides skills in an ever-changing society.


one are the days when vocational schools only offered training for the young. Optima, a vocational institute, now operates in two equally strong fields: basic education for the young and further education for adults. The latter one is seeing strong growth at the moment. “It is our task to offer development services to the industry. We work with companies to determine their education and development needs, and strive to meet these needs in the working environment, not on the school bench,” explains Director Rabbe Ede. The field is now characterised by a growing need to enhance social competence and strengthen leadership instead of merely focusing on technological skills. More and more adults A great many people now participate in some form of further education at Optima. The number of young people studying towards a basic degree is around 1,200. “In addition, we have some 320 apprentice students and around 1,000 students taking part in different 134  coastline • 2008

Mats Sandström

forms of further education,” explains Tiina Sjölund, Administrative Director. Certificates are proof of the professional competence required, for example, in the refurbishment of sanitary facilities, in hot work and in fields with strict hygiene requirements. “Further education is a growing field, boosted by the formal requirements demanded by society. An example of this is the new EU directive that requires all professional drivers to update their skills every five years,” says Ede. The young feel at home Optima also takes good care of its young students, as shown by it having the lowest number of drop-outs in Finland. The basic education offered by the school also plays an important part in building the future. “We have been successful in guiding our youth to professions needed in the long term, but are always attentive to future professions that we may not even have a name for yet,” says Ede. c

“Our vocational education is of high quality in international terms,” say Rabbe Ede and Tiina Sjölund.

Optima Tel. +358 6 7855 222 Fax +358 6 7855 299 Business sector: Vocational education Students: 1,550 Employees: 240

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TO DO BUSINESS WITH OSTROBOTHNIANS? They are honest. Finland tops practically every list of the world’s least corrupted countries. Not only does this mean that the authorities are just and fair: honesty is considered to be a personal virtue as well. When Ostrobothnians say “yes”, they really mean it. Likewise, a “no” really should be taken as a refusal. What this means in business contexts is that Ostrobothnian companies rarely come to sign a deal with an army of lawyers since they assume that everything will be handled correctly. Another sign of honesty is the tendency of Ostrobothnian companies to avoid excessive use of attractive advertisement slogans; they much prefer engineer reports. As a result, you will sometimes be subjected to long presentations with complex descriptions of incomprehensible technical details. Be patient, you are most likely in for some excellent and unbeatable products! They are punctual. An order made with an Ostrobothnian company will in all probability be delivered on schedule, although delivery capacity is stretched to the limit in boom periods. Should you supply goods to Ostrobothnia, rest assured that you will be paid on time. In addition to honesty, punctuality is considered to be one of the great virtues here. In Finland, it is rude to arrive late, whether to a meeting or a private gathering. Ostrobothnians take this a step further and often show up early. They go straight to the point. You will find it quick to do business in Ostrobothnia. Instead of spending time on light conversation, people get straight down to business. Small talk has never been highly rated in Finland, and even though Ostrobothnians may be more talkative than Finns from other regions, the culture is still rather quiet and sparing with words. Also, you are not expected to get to know each other in depth before doing business. They have good language skills. In terms of language, it is easy to do business with Ostrobothnians – and Finns in general – compared to many other nationalities. Although Finns have trouble believing it, they really do have good language skills (even though they are not particularly talkative). The majority speak English reasonably well, largely thanks to

undubbed TV programmes. Ostrobothnians also have better language skills than Finns on average since the region is bilingual and many people speak both Finnish and Swedish.

They are well educated. In relation to the number of inhabitants, Ostrobothnia offers the largest number of study places in Finland. In other words, the region’s workforce is well educated. Vaasa has both a Finnish and a Swedish university (University of Vaasa and Åbo Akademi University), as well as two universities of applied sciences, one for each language. Even those without a university degree have received a good education. According to the OECD’s latest PISA report, the school system in Finland is number one in the world. Finnish 15-year-olds came out on top in all of the fields studied: mathematics, natural sciences and problem-solving.

They have entrepreneurial spirit. No other region in Finland has as many companies in proportion to the number of inhabitants as does Ostrobothnia. Setting up a company and trying one’s luck is an attitude deeply rooted in the Ostrobothnian mentality. As a consequence, the region houses companies of all sizes representing a wide range of fields, producing everything from engines to abrasives. Thanks to its strong entrepreneurial traditions, the region now enjoys a robust and dynamic economy. Ostrobothnia has long had the second lowest unemployment rate in Finland.

They went global ages ago. Not only does Ostrobothnia enjoy Finland’s highest business density, it also features an exceptionally large share of export companies. This is hardly surprising, taking into consideration the region’s history. Ostrobothnia is located by the sea, the highway of a bygone age, so it has never been particularly difficult to take off for the world. Huge waves of emigrants left for both North America and Sweden. Many eventually returned, equipped with new ideas and experiences. Ostrobothnians have no trouble navigating in today’s global environment, simply because they have been doing so for centuries.

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Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce The Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce is the leading organisation of the business community on the western coast of central Finland. It is one of 19 regional Chambers of Commerce in Finland, forming a nationwide network to promote the business point of view all over the country.

Regional Council of Ostrobothnia Region of Ostrobothnia, Finland The Regional Council of Ostrobothnia is one of nineteen regional councils in Finland. The coastal region of Vaasa with its 17 municipalities provides the setting for the council. The office of the council is situated in the town of Vaasa. The regional council has two main tasks: • regional development • physical planning Regional development According to the Regional Development Act and Decree, the Council, in co-operation with the municipalities and several authorities

Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia, Kokkola, Finland The Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia is a versatile federation of 16 member municipalities. The Council represents the life, knowledge and opportunities of more than 90,000 inhabitants. Regional development By co-operating with the municipalities, other regional organizations and entrepreneurs, the Council works actively on the development of the region. The influence of various operations on the environment and diversity are measured in rural and urban planning and land use. Central Ostrobothnia

Viexpo Viexpo was founded in 1970 and is the oldest regional international trade promoting organization in Finland. The aim of Viexpo is to offer small and medium-sized companies services in all stages of the international trade process, ranging from market research and finding international partners to practical sales work.

Finnvera plc Vaasa Regional office As a specialised financing company owned by the State of Finland, Finnvera plc provides services to supplement the Finnish financial market. Finnvera’s task is to promote business and regional development, and the exports of Finnish companies. Finnvera carries out this task by improving the range and versatility of financing options available to enterprises through loans, guarantees and export credit guarantees.   Finnvera grants loans to enterprises and

T&E Centre for Ostrobothnia The Employment and Economic Development Centre provides many kinds of assistance, advice and consultancy for companies. For example, the T&E Centre helps firms to set up, expand, and develop their business operations and personnel. The Employment and Economic Development Centre is a joint regional service centre of two ministries – the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The T&E Centre provides services to business people, farmers and individuals in the region.

Kokkola office Ristirannankatu 1 FI-67100 Kokkola Tel. +358 6 832 6400 Fax +358 6 832 6490 Jakobstad office Runebergsgatan 11 FI-68600 Jakobstad Tel. +358 6 781 6400 Fax +358 6 781 6490

of the region, has drafted a number of objective programmes. The initiatives and ideas presented in these programmes are summarized in the Regional Development Programme. Physical planning Regional physical planning has been carried out for nearly forty years in the Region of Ostrobothnia, for the last 30 years as part of Finnish legislation.

Vaasa office Raastuvankatu 20 FI-65100 Vaasa Tel. +358 6 318 6400 Fax +358 6 318 6490 Contacts Bengt Jansson Chief Executive Juha Häkkinen Director

Sandögatan 6 P.O.Box 174 FI-65101 Vaasa Tel. +358 6 320 6500 Fax +358 6 320 6550 Contacts Olav Jern Executive Director

Development Strategy The Region of Ostrobothnia should develop its knowledge, skills and contacts in order that it may fully utilise its human and natural resources now and in the future.

continues to attract people not only as a temporary destination for tourists but also as a permanent place to live. This is due to new values, with the environment and nature gaining ever more importance in the everyday life of the people. Spatial planning Regional spatial planning is a large new sector of the activities of the Regional Council. It is made possible by good cooperation with the municipalities. The aim is to steer development and to save nature. Nature and enterprises in harmony Central Ostrobothnia is an unpolluted, safe place in which to live, grow up and work.

Head office Runebergsgatan 11 FI-68600 Jakobstad Tel. +358 6 781 6440 Fax +358 6 781 6450 Regional offices Hovioikeudenpuistikko 19 A P.O.Box 131 FI-65100 Vaasa

A strong cultural heritage forms the foundation of this bilingual (Finnish, Swedish) and enterprising region. Rantakatu 14 FI-67100 Kokkola Tel. +358 6 860 5700 Fax +358 6 868 0308 Contacts Altti Seikkula Excecutive director

Tel. +358 6 319 9250 Fax +358 6 319 9260 Ristirannankatu 1 FI-67100 Kokkola Tel. +358 6 832 6440 Fax +358 6 832 6450 Contacts Markus Jussila Managing Director

entrepreneurs, and issues guarantees and export credit guarantees to enterprises and financiers. Finnvera plc’s credit portfolio as of June 2007, stood at about 2.2 billion euros for credits and guarantees and about 5.2 billion euros for export credit guarantees and special guarantees; the number of clients was close to 28,200.   Finnvera serves its clients through 16 regional offices in Finland and through the representation office in St. Petersburg.

Pitkäkatu 55 FI-65100 Vaasa Tel. +358 (0)204 60 11 Fax + 358 (0)204 60 3849

The technological work is done in cooperation with Tekes, Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. We help you to enhance your products and production techniques to an internationally competitive level by means of technology. Our technological expertise is versatile and we have a network of contacts at home and abroad.

Kokkola office Ristirannankatu 1 P.O.Box 240 FI-67101 Kokkola Tel. +358 10 60 28500 Fax +358 10 60 28980

Vaasa office Hovioikeudenpuistikko 19 A P.O.Box 131, FI-65101 Vaasa Tel. +358 10 60 28500 Fax +358 10 60 28970

Contacts John Erickson Vice President

Contacts Kaj Suomela Director


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